The Association of Indonesian Tobacco Farmers is calling on the government to be more transparent in the use and management of the Tobacco Excise Sharing Fund (DBHCT), which it claims is being used for activities unrelated to the needs of tobacco growers.
“The government is using the DBHCT for activities that have nothing to do with tobacco farmers. It’s even using it for crop conversion,” said Wisnu Brata, chairman of the association known as the APTI. “This clearly ignores tobacco farmers,”
He said the government had used money from the fund to purchase official cars. “This clearly violates regulations,” he said.
The DBHCT was established to improve human resources, technology and access to capital for tobacco farmers.
Jamsari, head of research management at the Indonesian Catalog Institution, said the government had never made public how the tobacco fund was used.
The Indonesian Catalog Institute is a research institution trying to strengthen democracy through advocating the widening of public access to information.
Jamsari accused the government of violating the 2008 Law on Public Information, which requires public institutions to provide accurate information on their activities. “The public has never been given accurate information from the government on the management of the DBHCT fund,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hasan Aoni Aziz, the corporate communication head for the Indonesian Cigarette Producers Association (Gapri), is asking the government to re-evaluate the policy on the DBHCT. He said the program had strayed from its original intention of helping tobacco growers.
The central government and regional administrations, he added, should cooperate to evaluate how money from the fund was being used.
“It is time for the regulations and the spirit to be reviewed,” Hasan said, adding that the fund should be used to prepare measures to protect the tobacco industry from future crises. “If the cigarette industry is facing problems, there will be a problem in the public because workers in that sector are also providing for their families.”