Thu, 05 Oct 2000

Government to impose new levy on fishing permits

JAKARTA (JP): The government will impose a new levy on the application of fishing permits in a bid to increase state revenue from the fishing sector, a senior fisheries official said here on Wednesday.

Djoko Sugiarto, the director of fisheries infrastructure at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said that the regulation on the levy would be implemented next year.

The levy will be imposed on applications for fishing permits issued by the Directorate General of Fisheries for trawlers with a capacity of more than 30 gross tons, Djoko said.

"The amount of the levy would depend on the size, tonnage, and the kind of equipment the trawlers use", he told journalists on the sidelines of a fisheries workshop currently being held by the ministry in conjunction with the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forests Australia (AFFA).

He said he was optimistic that with the new levy, the government's target to raise Rp 291.7 billion ($34.3 million) from the fishing sector next year could be achieved.

Bambang Suboko, the executive director of the Indonesian Fisheries Federation (Gappindo), said that the government's plan to impose the levy would hurt the ailing fishing industry.

"The fishing industry has been stagnant during the last two years due to unfavorable macro economics, and worsening communal conflicts in the main fishing areas of Maluku," he said.

The 46 percent drop in frozen tuna exports, a major export commodity, to Japan in 1999 from 38,000 metric tones in 1998 clearly indicated the setback to the country's fishing industry, Bambang said.

"If you look at the exports from January to August all sectors are improving except for agriculture, which includes fisheries, which dropped by 30 percent," he said.

He said that in the current climate, the government should provide incentives rather than add further difficulties, in order to help those in the fishing industry survive the harsh situation.

"This is not the time to tax more from the industry, at a time when it is stuck," he said, adding that despite this they would still go along with the government's decision.

Indonesia exports marine products to Japan, the United States, the European Union, and countries in East Asia.

Bambang said the government should strive for recovery by helping the revival of the industry.

In an effort to achieve this, the government should clarify and ease the issuance of fishing permits, and suspend decrees for more taxes and levies, he said.


The two-day workshop will involve discussion on proposals for possible cooperation in the fishing sector made during the meeting of Indonesian fisheries officials and their Australian counterparts in Bali in March.

The issues include research collaboration on shark stocks and tuna species shared between Indonesia and Australia, assistance in institutional capacity building and assistance in the development of marine culture in eastern Indonesia, including the establishment of pilot sites.

Djoko said Indonesia would choose three projects to prioritize in its future cooperation with neighboring Australia, such as the development of the seaweed industry, grouper marine culture and shrimp health management.

"These are in line with the ministry's own policy which is to support income from exports," he said. (10)