Wed, 23 Aug 2000

Visits to Australia exempt from tax

KUPANG, E Nusa Tenggara (Antara): Indonesians living in the Indonesia-Australia economic cooperation areas -- such as Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, Irian Jaya, East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara -- are to be exempt from paying departure tax when visiting Australia.

Joint chairman of the East Nusa Tenggara, West Timorese and northern Australian Business Communication Forum, Ferdi Tanoni, disclosed here Tuesday that the departure tax exemption was provided for by a decree of the Indonesian minister of finance dated May 19 last.

"This decree is a progressive measure. But it is regrettable that it has not been properly publicized by the authorities concerned, especially as it came into force on July 1," Ferdi said.

According to him, the proposal for the foreign departure tax exemptions, specifically for destinations in Australia, was submitted by the Communication Forum and the East Nusa Tenggara provincial government five years ago through the Australia- Indonesia Development Area (AIDA) cooperation forum for further deliberation at ministerial level in both countries.

"We made the proposal as the Rp 1 million exit tax when visiting Australia by air is a great burden for most entrepreneurs in eastern Indonesia," he said.

Ferdi pointed out that the Communication Forum and the East Nusa Tenggara provincial government suggested the exemption in order to enhance social, economic and cultural cooperation between Eastern Indonesia, particularly East Nusa Tenggara, and northern Australia.

The departure tax exemption, he said, has had a positive impact on Kupang, capital of East Nusa Tenggara province, which has a direct air link to Darwin in Northern Australia.

As a consequence, the provincial government and local legislative assembly should demand that Kupang be made the gateway in the southern part of eastern Indonesia, to Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, he said.

"I think it (this status) is appropriate because only Kupang has direct flights to northern Australia. Kupang's position is quite strategic. It only needs a political decision to confirm it," Ferdi said.

According to him, the departure tax exemption and the conferring of gateway status on Kupang would help develop a new economic growth center in the southern part of eastern Indonesia, consisting primarily of East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara, West Timor and northern Australia.