Tax amnesty, KPK revision could be law by year-end
The Jakarta Post
The House of Representatives and the government had agreed to press ahead with discussing controversial bills on a tax amnesty and a revision to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law, a House Legislation Body (Baleg) member revealed on Sunday.
The government and the House had furthermore agreed, Baleg member Hendrawan Supratikno said, to pass the bills into law by the end of the year.
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's administration initiated a revision to Law No. 30/2002 on the KPK in May in exchange for the House's approval in March of a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) to bring in new KPK leaders after a power vacuum opened up at the commission.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives proposed in June to discuss a bill on an amnesty for tax evaders.
Both plans, however, have been met with fierce public opposition, and the respective initiators ' the government and the House ' have been reluctant to press ahead with the bills.
Wary of the potential damage to its public image, the government, represented by Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly, struck a deal in a meeting with Baleg on Friday night, with the two sides agreeing to swap responsibility for the two bills.
Hendrawan confirmed the deal, which, he said, 'mandated the government as the initiator of the tax amnesty law, while the House will oversee the revision of the KPK Law', a revision the KPK has lambasted as a plot to hamstring the antigraft body by effectively removing its vital authorities.
House Commission III overseeing legal affairs, Hendrawan explained, would accelerate the discussion of the two bills so that they could be approved and made into law by the end of the current hearing session in late December.
'[The deal] is based on the understanding that the government knows most about tax, while the House has deeper knowledge of the country's integrated judicial system and is working on revisions of other laws on the Supreme Court and the Criminal Code [KUHP],' he said.
He denied any connection between the deal and the prolonged delay to Commission III's scheduled screenings of KPK commissioner candidates, despite the KPK Law stipulating Dec. 16 as the deadline for the House to appoint new commissioners.
Antigraft activists have accused the House of putting off the screenings as a ploy to force the government into approving the revision of the KPK Law, as a failure to have new commissioners in place by the deadline could have negative repercussions for the government.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla defended Yasonna's deal with the House and insisted that the government was not looking to shift the blame for any unpopular effects of the planned revision to the KPK Law.
'Any law is subject to revision. If the Constitution can be revised, why not the [KPK] law?' Kalla said on Sunday.
Separately, political analyst Gun Gun Heryanto of UIN Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University said he suspected that the swap deal between the government and the House was related to the House's delayed approval of the 2016 state budget in late October.
The state budget should have been approved on Oct. 22, but it was not until Oct. 30 that the government was able to persuade to the legislature to do so.
'I also have questions about [Yasonna's] move because the President has said that it is not a pressing matter to revise the KPK Law. Has the President changed his stance or has the minister acted on his own authority?' Gun Gun said.
Miko Ginting of the Center of Indonesian Legal and Policy Studies (PSHK), meanwhile, said he hoped Jokowi would honor his promise to block any changes to the KPK Law.
'The ball is in the President's court. Does he intend to stop the plan to revise the KPK Law? He should announce whether he intends to issue a Supres [Presidential Letter]. Without a Surpres, the House is unable to follow up the deal,' Miko said.
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