Manufacturers behind low cigarette taxes in Indonesia – commission
JAKARTA—Indonesia’s National Commission on Tobacco Control (Komnas PT) is warning about the potential influence of manufacturers over the government’s ongoing efforts to determine the proper tobacco taxes that are currently being considered as a proven strategy to reduce smoking.
“The cigarette industry can make such an intervention through various activities and high-level lobbying, one of which is via international institutions,” Komnas PT chairman Prijo Sidipratomo said in a release made available to The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
He said cigarette prices in Indonesia were considered very low and affordable even for young smokers; thus, the maximum increase in cigarette taxes needed to be applied to limit cigarette consumption in the country.
“High taxes can lead to a jump in cigarette prices in Indonesia, allowing the government to control cigarette consumption among susceptible groups, such as poor people and children,” said Prijo.
He said limiting people’s access to cigarettes through high taxes was popular in other countries, especially those that had acceded to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Such a strategy was also proven as a ‘win-win’ solution for the government’s revenues and its efforts to protect people’s health from cigarette smoking impacts, he added.
The Komnas PT chairman was speaking in response to the presence of several Indonesian fiscal and financial officials in the Asia-Pacific Tax Forum held by the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) in New Delhi, India, from May 5 to 7.
The ITIC is among the organizations blacklisted by WHO and the World Bank (WB) as it is sponsored by four multinational cigarette companies, namely Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and JTI.
The forum has drawn sharp criticism regarding, particularly, the sponsorship of the cigarette companies, forcing the WB to pull out its support.
A number of financial officials from several countries also decided to not attend the forum because of the cigarette sponsorship.
Unfortunately, Indonesia has decided that it will still take part in the forum.
Komnas PT says the Asia-Pacific Tax Forum currently held by the ITIC is one of the interventions conducted by the cigarette industry to ensure the continuity of their business by working against efforts by countries to increase their cigarette taxes.
Manufacturers’ interventions on the government’s cigarette taxing policy can be seen when via the ITIC, an institution they are sponsoring, the cigarette companies invite representatives from various countries to attend an international forum to discuss the tax policies of those countries, the commission says.
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