Indonesia: Spending Questioned

The Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) has criticized the Government for ¡®wasting the state budget¡¯ on challenging Australia¡¯s standardized-tobacco-packaging law in a recent trade dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO), according to a story in The Jakarta Post.

The Post story said the WTO had rejected a complaint filed by Indonesia, Cuba, Honduras and the Dominican Republic against Australia, concluding that the Australian policy did not violate fair trade rules and helped reduce tobacco consumption.

The four countries had argued that Australia¡¯s standardized-tobacco-packaging policy had violated tobacco companies¡¯ trademarks and intellectual property rights.

¡°The case incurred financial losses [to Indonesia] because the Government spent money from the state budget to hire an international lawyer,¡± YLKI chairman Tulus Abadi was quoted as saying yesterday.

The Supreme Audit Agency and the Corruption Eradication Commission should audit the funds the Government had spent on hiring the lawyer, he added.

Tulus said the WTO decision was foreseeable and accused the Government of not supporting international campaigns on reducing tobacco consumption.

Standardized-tobacco-packaging was part of a global tobacco control campaign that aimed to deter smoking by cutting the positive associations linking cigarette brands and tobacco consumption.

It required all branding to be removed from cigarette packs and mandated health warnings.  Enditem

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