Thu, 29 May 2003

Indramayu regent dismisses threat of tax boycott

Nana Rukmana, The Jakarta Post, Indramayu, West Java

Indramayu Regent Irianto M.S. Syafiudin has dismissed demands made by village heads who have threatened to stop paying property tax, saying that paying tax was every citizen's obligation.

Irianto was responding to demands made by some 300 village heads who recently threatened to stop paying property tax and to relinquish their duty of running the village administration if their terms of office were not extended to eight years from the current five.

"The village heads' demands cannot be met. I will not hesitate to suspend or dismiss those campaigning for a tax boycott among the people. This action is intolerable and against the law," he said.

The secretary of the local office of the Association of Indonesian Village Heads (AKSI), Baidullah, said that the association was serious in its threat and village heads would stay out of the administration office while calling on locals to not pay their taxes on buildings or property they owned.

"All 302 village heads have agreed to press the regent to extend their terms of office to eight years," he said.

He declined to answer why the village heads wanted their terms extended since they were allowed by the 1999 Law on regional autonomy to stay in office for two consecutive terms.

"We have demanded the regency administration and legislative council to revise the ruling on village heads' terms of office because the limitation goes against the people's sovereignty in establishing a village administration," he said.

The chairman of the Indramayu legislative council, Iwan Hendrawan, acknowledged the village chiefs' demand, saying the legislative council would discuss it during its next hearing with the regent.

"Both the local administration and the legislative council should pay attention to the village chiefs' demand because if they all campaign for the tax boycott it would disrupt the running of the public administration at the higher levels," he said.

He also acknowledged that village heads had so far played an important role in persuading people to pay their taxes.

"The legislative council will try to seek a peaceful settlement to the village heads' demand to create a conducive situation in the regency," he said.