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Agenda Susupan Industri Rokok dalam International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC)

Today, the 13th Annual Asia-Pacific Tax Forum was initiated by the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) opened in Jakarta. Institutions which claims itself as a research and education nonprofit institution that is independent claims will bring tax reform in Indonesia. But in fact, behind the ITIC approach to the Indonesian government, to infiltrate the hidden agenda of the tobacco industry.

In 2015, ITIC met with Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla. During the meeting, President of ITIC Daniel Witt gave the book Excise Tax in ASEAN: A Guide to Reform Ahead of AEC 2015 to the Vice President. Witt says that the book discusses among others the implementation of customs clearance for cross-border trade, for example excise for commodities such as cigarettes, alcohol, and so on. This book has also been given to the Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro. This is the initial step approach kepemerintah ITIC Indonesia.

The first thing that must be asked is whether the independent ITIC? In fact, on the board of directors ITIC stands four major tobacco industry, Philip Morris (PMI), Japan Tobacco International (JTI), British American Tobacco (BAT) and Imperial Tobacco. Two years after being founded, ITIC revealed that they provide access or support in policy making for the sponsor,
including the transnational tobacco companies.

ITIC has been lobbying various nations to oppose the tobacco tax policies. They make a tax manual which essentially facilitate the investment climate but tucked inside a chapter on tobacco tax. Their will is clear, namely that the government did not raise high taxes on cigarettes, something which is contrary to international rules, including the World Bank.

In May 2015, the World Bank withdraw financial backing for the 12st Annual Asia-Pacific Tax Forum in New Delhi, India, which is being organized by ITIC. The World Bank refused to give support and the Indian government did not send top officials to the forum. All done for the protection of society by giving exemption on tobacco products.

On this occasion, Dr. Doug Bettcher, head of WHO’s Communicable Diseases said, “ITIC has published numerous false endorsements tobacco industry excise tax, investment, and the illegal trade in tobacco products. ITIC has used their international conference to lobby government officials on the taxation of tobacco. ”

Therefore, in his statement, Bettcher also said that WHO urge all countries not to get involved with the institution also took the academics and the schools in making kebijakan.Namun this economy, at this time, it seems the Indonesian government, in this case the Ministry of Finance, middle fooled by ITIC in the same holding of the forum.

In order to improve the investment climate, the government should be consistent with the dignity of Excise Act, namely controlling consumption through an increase in tobacco excise rates. ITIC strongly pro an increase in tobacco taxes, they will weaken the government’s intention to scare the increase of illegal cigarettes.

In addition, the establishment of a sovereign government tax rates, rather than follow the direction of ITIC who have an interest to increase its business in the ASEAN markets, particularly in Indonesia.

“What do ITIC in countries that approached actually just a camouflage for the hidden agenda that infiltrated the cigarette industry bigwigs. This is one of their strategies in order to perpetuate its business, and the way they are very subtle. Government officials, especially in Kementeri Finance, the potential to be affected. This is very dangerous for tobacco control efforts in an attempt protection of people, “said Kartono Mohamad, Chairman of the Tobacco Control Support Center (TCSC) as well as Advisory Board Member National Commission on Tobacco Control.

This is supported by the economist who is also Vice Chairman of the Institute of Demography, University of Indonesia, Abdillah Ahsan, who said, “The government should be careful on the recommendations given ITIC. The state could be used as a tool by the tobacco industry to make profits through tobacco control policies are weak, especially the tax policy is very effective to reduce consumption. ”

The government must be aware that the ITIC sponsored by tobacco companies multinational has a hidden agenda to influence the economic policies taken by the government, especially on the issue of tobacco control, as in the case of tax / cigarette taxes, given what has been done ITIC countries other. Therefore, the government should not make a commitment on the ITIC. Tax reform is a record that should be reviewed, especially in the Tobacco Tax Section as it will sacrifice the people who become the target market for the benefit of cheap cigarettes industry. @ ANDI Digul

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