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Jakarta Post

Indonesia to decide stance on tobacco bill

  • Marguerite Afra Sapiie
    Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, March 10, 2017   /  07:08 am
Indonesia to decide stance on tobacco bill Livelihoods – Workers select dried tobacco leaves. The government is deliberating its stance on the House of Representatives' controversial tobacco bill. (JP/Wahyoe Boediwardhana)

As the deadline for the government to respond to the House of Representatives' second attempt to deliberate a controversial tobacco bill draws near, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration is set to decide on its stance on the bill.

Jokowi, through the presidential chief of staff Teten Masduki, has appointed Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto to lead the talk on deciding the official government's approach toward the deliberation of the tobacco bill.

Speaking at the coordinating minister's office, Teten said Wiranto had been tasked with gathering and coordinating input from the relevant ministries to decide the bill's fate, which remains in the balance because of disagreements among government institutions.

"The tobacco industry is a huge deal for us. It is related to many aspects including state revenues, farmers, SMEs and health. There are still many aspects that we have to consider, so the government's position should be objective in this case," Teten told reporters on Thursday.

(Read also: Tobacco firms told to go all-out in campaign against underage smoking)

Studies from ministries related to the tobacco issue, including from the Health Ministry, Industry Ministry, Finance Ministry, Home Ministry, as well as the Agriculture Ministry, would be gathered and assessed by a team at Wiranto's office, to ensure that all aspects were considered before any decision would be taken, Teten said.

"We’ve begun the coordination as March 18 is the deadline to issue the presidential letter [...]. Whether the letter is sent or not will be based on the assessment by the coordinating minister's office," Teten added.

The tobacco bill, which seeks to triple cigarette production to 524 billion by 2020, was initially rejected from the 2016 National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) by the Health Ministry. However, the return of Golkar politician Setya Novanto as House Speaker saw the bill resurrected to enter the 2017 Prolegnas. (dan)

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