Jakarta. Indonesia's Finance Ministry and anti-monopoly agency will be sharing data on taxpayers and businesses in an effort to fight cartels and improve tax collection, a senior official said.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and the head of the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) Syarkawi Rauf signed a memorandum of understanding on behalf of both institutions on Thursday (02/03), which cemented data and information exchanges between the tax office, customs and the KPPU that started a week ago.
The MoU allows both institutions to share data and information, conduct joint investigations, provide training for employees and exchange experts for the next five years.
"This cooperation will optimize KPPU's work [...] We at the KPPU have met so many cases linked to the tax office and the directorate general of customs and excise," Syarkawi said.
Syarkawi referred to the meat import cartel cases last year in which KPPU fined 32 cattle importer and beef feedlot companies for instigating unfair competition. These companies had collectively agreed to hold back stocks despite massive imports, deliberately pushing meat prices up.
According to data from the Finance Ministry, there were 56 frozen beef importers in Indonesia last year who brought 155,070.2 tonnes of frozen beef into the country, up 247 percent compared to 44,673.9 tonnes in 2015.
Meanwhile, fresh beef imports increased more than 10 times to 10,340 tonnes last year from 954 tonnes in 2015 and offal imports increased to 9.5 tonnes from none in 2015.
"The Indonesian population did not increase but beef imports did," Sri Mulyani said after signing the agreement. "If supply grew threefold, the price should have dropped."
Sri Mulyani suspects that companies involved in cartels are also evading tax. The new agreement with the KPPU allows the Finance Ministry — which includes the tax office and the directorate general of taxes — to cross reference taxpayers' data, importers' data, traffic of goods in the country's ports and cases handled by the KPPU.
All these efforts, Sri Mulyani said, are part of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's promise to lower prices of staple food in Indonesia.
Cross-referencing efforts will not be limited to meat cartel suspects as the government is also keen to keep prices of chicken, rice and sugar low as well, Sri Mulyani said.
Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita, who also attended the ceremony, said all importers now have to pay all of their taxes before the company can ship in their commodities from abroad, otherwise, they will be banned.
Enggar reported that frozen beef prices have stabilized to a maximum of Rp 80,000 ($6) per kilogram from more than Rp 100,000 per kilogram previously.