One of the first applications of drones was surveillance, but the Indonesian government has taken the application to a whole new level. The government is now utilizing drones for finding tax evaders in Indonesia’s palm oil plantations. The aim of the operation is to estimate the size and mineral extraction capacity of the plantations and counter check with the filings made by the farmers. Mineral plantations are amongst the most profitable industries in the country, but as per Samon Jaya, head of the tax office, the farmers do not pay enough tax.
One of the main problems that Indonesia faces, while catching tax evaders, is the series of islands that the country is broken into. The government is also short on resources and it can become a painstaking task to properly assess the plantations on each and every island. Drones, however, offer the most cost effective and simplest way to make this possible. As per Mr. Jaya, plantation owners in his region pay less than one-third of the tax they should.
President Joko Widodo and his government aim to employ cheap technology, such as drones, to catch such evaders. The government also has plans to initiate a $400 billion infrastructure program, but that is not possible if tax leakages do not stop. Initially, the government had offered to not administer any penalties if the evaders paid their debts, but now it seems that the government is ready to take a hard line.
This is not the first time that drones are being used to gather data about land area and crop production; they have been in use for these purposes for years. However, this is the first time that this data would be used to convict farmers for tax evasion rather than help them maximize crop output. The beauty of using a drone for such purposes is that it’s cheap and is rarely hindered by weather changes.