The Jakarta Post
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has signed a presidential regulation allowing the use of regional tobacco excise duty to help finance the national healthcare program, which has been beset by a growing deficit.
“[The regulation on national health insurance] is currently being processed by the Law and Human Rights Ministry,” presidential spokesman Johan Budi told reporters at the State Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday.
The Healthcare and Social Security Agency’s (BPJS Kesehatan) deficit is expected to surpass Rp 10 trillion (US$672.5 million) this year.
During a joint meeting with House Commission IX members on Monday, Deputy Finance Minister Mardiasmo told lawmakers that funds collected from regional cigarette taxes for BPJS Kesehatan could amount to Rp 5.51 trillion this year.
Indonesia is not only one of the largest smoking nations in the world, it also has one of the most liberal tobacco regulations.
Antitobacco activists and some government officials have warned that stricter tobacco control was needed to stem the rising number of smokers in the country, which they say could derail the nation’s efforts to achieve its sustainable development goals (SDG). (ris/ahw)