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New Tourism Law Criticized by Legislator

Lawmaker Says Funding of New Tourism Promotion Board Reflects Lack of Serious Commitment by Government to Promote Tourism Industry

(12/20/2008) The ratification of a new national tourism law is predicted to bring disaster for some sectors of Indonesia’s tourism industry. Bisnis.com quotes Cheppy Wartono, a member of Commission X of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) hailing from the Indonesian People's Democratic Party for Struggle Party (PDIP) who criticized the failure of the new law to adopt a holistic understanding the tourism industry, particularly as regard the establishment and funding of the new Tourism Promotion Board.

Despite the adoption of the new tourism law by all the political factions represented in the DPR, Wartono told the press of his intention to join members form five political factions in filing a formal note of dissent due to the uneven quality of the new law and the failure to include many suggested enhancements in the final draft of the legislation.

Wartono is taking issue with the section of the new law which establishes a new Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board (BPPI). The law calls for the BPPI to be funded from non-budgetary sources, a fact that Wartono sees as reflecting a certain ambivalence on the part of the government, leaving the funding of the new promotion authority in limbo.

Explaining his displeasure further, Wartono said: "My first objection is that the Department of Tourism is not a strategic department of the government, which means if there is a change of government, it (tourism) can be again placed under the Coordinating Minister of the People's Welfare. Thus, how can we create the BPPI only to see the department possibly eliminated in the future and the BPPI disintegrating due to the lack of committed funding by the government.”

He told Bisnis.com that the new law shows a desire on the part of the government to create a tourism promotion board while at the same time demonstrating a lack of firm commitment to develop a sector of the economy that contributes taxes worth Rp. 52 trillion (US$4.7 billion) and generates Rp. 90 trillion (US$8.1 billion) in much needed foreign exchange.

Wartono bemoaned the fact that despite the discovery a holistic formula for funding using provincial tax resources during legislative consideration of the bill, the government ended up creating a new agency without any financial clout.

Cheppy Wartono also said he disagreed with the decision to give full power to the Minister of Culture and Tourism to appoint the head of the BPPI. According to Wartono, the Minister should propose candidates who would undergo a fit and proper review by the House of Representatives before final appointment by the President.