Ni Komang Erviani , The Jakarta Post , Denpasar | Thu, 11/20/2008 10:33 AM | Bali
Around 1200 businesses in Bali are still using underground water without a permit, Bali Income Agency officials say, posing environmental risks and depriving the region of much needed income from taxes.
Putu Ardhana, head of the Bali Income Agency, said nearly 60 percent of the approximately 2000 businesses operating in Bali were illegally tapping underground water. Many of the business are allegedly hotels and restaurants.
“And there may be even more businesses illegally accessing water that we haven’t yet caught,” Ardhana said during a technical meeting for underground water maintenance in Hotel Puri Ayu, Denpasar, Wednesday.
He said water theft had cost the province billions of rupiah, which “could have been used for other, useful, public service projects”.
He said the agency had aimed to collect Rp 8.5 billion (about US$720,000) in taxes on underground water sources this year but as of October had only received Rp 7 billion.
“The discrepancy is due to these businesses continue to draw use water without a permit, and it is costing the province valuable tax income,” he said.
Ardhana said the agency aims to gain Rp 10 billion from the tax next year.
He was optimistic that the agency could reach its target, educate businesses on the importance of taxes and crack down on businesses that continue to evade payments.
Ardhana said he was also concerned about the harm these businesses posed to the environment.
“This matter is not just about collecting income from taxes but preventing businesses from exploiting water sources,” he said.
Sudirman, head of the Bali Environmental Center, said Bali had been experiencing a reduction in underground water levels, which he blamed on the over-use of the resource.
“These businesses are to blame for the falling levels of underground water. They cannot deny this anymore,” he said.
Meanwhile, secretary general of the Indonesia Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI), Perry Markus, admitted that many hotels and restaurants in Bali were still illegally tapping underground water.
Perry said the association was currently educating its members on the importance of obtaining proper permits and urged its members to apply for them.
“But as an association, we cannot force our members. All we can do is encourage them,” he said.