Wed, 17 May 2000

Money puts legislation program on hold

JAKARTA (JP): The House of Representatives is now exercising its political function far better than its predecessors, but it fares little better when it comes to its legislation program -- because of a lack of money.

Chairman of the House legislation board Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno said on Tuesday his team frequently failed to meet because they were not paid.

"Many times we have been unable to make a decision on which bills should be given priority of deliberation because our meetings did not have a quorum," he said.

Unlike regular plenary and commission sessions, the legislation board's internal meetings are considered non- budgetary so board members receive no allowances for attending a session.

All factions at the House are representing on the board.

Soetardjo said the government had submitted a total of 29 new draft laws, all of which were urgent, for the House's endorsement.

He said that seen from this point view, the House should avoid delaying deliberations.

"The board's members do not deserve extra payment because they receive their monthly salaries," he said.

Soetardjo said the revision of the 1999 law on general elections should top the priority list in line with the presence of newly established regencies and provinces and the planned revamp of the General Election Commission (KPU).

The deliberation of bills on labor unions was also urgent due to the ratification of the international convention on the freedom to unionize in 1998, he said.

He said six new tax bills would continue to be deliberated over the next three months and were expected to be endorsed by the end of the House's fourth sitting, which ends in August.

Other draft laws recently submitted by the government deal with international pacts, human rights tribunals, seed varieties and labor protection. (rms)