Jakarta (ANTARA) - The House of Representatives (DPR) and the Indonesian government on Monday passed a controversial omnibus bill into law amid mounting criticism over its provisions on labor rights, indigenous community rights, and environmental protection. “According to what we heard, once again let me ask for approvals in this plenary session, can we all agree (to pass the bill into law)?" Deputy House Speaker Azis Syamsuddin from the Golkar Party, who led the session, asked fellow house members.

Most representatives attending the plenary session approved the bill’s passage into law.

Before the deliberation, all political parties presented their views on the Omnibus Bill on Job Creation. At least six parties firmly endorsed the omnibus bill, while the National Mandate Party presented a note on the bill. Two parties — Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and Democratic Party/Partai Demokrat — opposed the bill’s passage.

Following political party representatives, the government presented its views on why the bill needed to be passed into law.

The House and the government held at least 64 meetings to deliberate on the bill, said chairman of DPR’s legislative body, Supratman Andi Agtas, at the plenary session. “The (final) omnibus bill on job creation comprised 15 chapters and 185 articles, while in the previous draft, the bill consisted of 15 chapters and 174 articles,” he noted.

According to Agtas, with the passing of the omnibus law, seven laws mentioned earlier in the bill stand scrapped: Law No.40 Year 1999 on Press; Law No.20 Year 2003 on National Education System; Law No.14 Year 2005 on Teachers and Lecturers; Law No.12 Year 12 on Higher Education; Law No.20 Year 2013 on Medical Studies; Law No.4 Year 2019 on Midwifery; and, Law No.20 Year 2014 on Standardization and Assessment.

However, the House and the government have decided to include four other laws: Law No.6 Year 1983 on Taxation; Law No.7 Year 1983 on Income Tax; Law No.8 Year 1983 on the Sales Tax on Luxury Goods; and, Law No.18 Year 2017 on the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers.

Agtas also assured investors the law will cut bureaucratic red tape and expedite business permits through the use of a single system — Online Single Submission (OSS). The omnibus law will also speed up procedures for business certification, he added.

The omnibus bill on job creation was first proposed by the Indonesian government, and its final draft was submitted to the Parliament in February this year. Deliberations on the bill had taken around six months to complete with lawmakers and the government holding meetings on weekends, including a hearing last Saturday.

The bill, according to its supporters, aims to increase both domestic and foreign investment inflow, while creating a more attractive investment climate, in the next five years, following the President’s re-election last year.

The aim is clearly reflected in the bill’s 15 chapters, in which, articles on business and investment dominate regulations on manpower. Of the total 905 pages, at least seven chapters cover relaxations on doing business with corporations and investors. They include easing procedures on environmental impact analysis (amdal), which is now mandatory for all kinds of business operations.

According to environmental and human rights advocates, the revision would hurt indigenous groups and efforts on protecting the environment. Even before the omnibus bill, many indigenous groups in Indonesia were involved in disputes with corporations due to land acquisitions, the most notable case being the Samin indigenous group in Kendeng mountains versus state-owned cement manufacturer PT Semen Indonesia.

In spite of the concerns, the omnibus bill's proponents would be more likely to highlight its foremost aim: boosting economic growth.

However, a promise that the bill might spur the economy would not be enough for most of its opponents.

"Our concerns are that the omnibus bill will hurt labor. Because some of the regulations will allow foreign unskilled workers (to be employed), it will be a massive use of outsourcing, flexible working hours, and a change in payroll scheme from monthly to hourly," KSPI chairman Said Iqbal noted in a statement.

Iqbal, who has been a vocal opponent of the bill, said the existing Law No.13 Year 2003 on Manpower protects labor and their right to a fair allowance and decent treatment in the workplace. "(If the system is changed), companies will arbitrarily determine labor's working hours and the salary they should pay to us," he pointed out. (INE)

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Translator: Imam Budilaksono/Genta Tenri M
Editor: Suharto
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