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“Jalesveva Jayamahe,” in the seas we will triumph

Interview - February 4, 2015

The potential and competitive advantage Indonesia bears, being the largest archipelago in the world.


Could you please give us your vision about the new plans for the Maritime Sector with the new government?

On the 27th of October, 2014, I officially began working as the Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs with a new office and new stuff and tried to find all the resources necessary. We wanted to move to global markets and our strategy actually has 5 big pillars:

Number one, we want to strengthen our maritime sovereignty, which we have been working for. Indonesia declared we have to increase our maritime security, we have to promote maritime security all over the world, at the same time also we have to bring our people back to the oceans and the seas.

Number two, with all this sovereignty and security of our maritime forces we have to utilize in a sensible way our ocean resources which include the living resources, non living resources, the fish, the mineral oils and gas and resources under the ocean. Let’s utilize this for the benefit of the people, let’s utilize this in a positive way.

Number three, maritime has been decided to become our global gate access. We have to strengthen our infrastructures. The president mentioned the maritime highway, as we call it. Actually, we are talking about revitalizing and building the new 24 harbor, at the same time also 5 big deep sea harbors, starting from North Sumatra in the west. Having this strong harbor which we are able to strengthen our interconnectivity is key, and it is among an island. After we’ve got harbors we’ve go into the ship yards, which are very good, progressing. All of this is able to provide employment for 130,000 which means this is the part of the program in which we are going to provide incentives, both fiscal and non fiscal. 88 ship yards can be able to produce ships for our transportation.

Next in the agenda is also the electrical power. The government is committed to building 35,000 mega watt additional electric power because otherwise we are going to have a problem with this in terms of the shortage. In Java alone, we forecasted to produce an additional 18,000 megawatts per year in the next 3 or 4 years, or else we are going to have a shortage of electricity, just in Java alone, so the growing of electrical output is number one.

Then we go into the other one which is tourism, tourism is actually to double the number of foreign tourists coming to Indonesia from 10 million in 2015. Now it is 8.9, less than 10, let’s call it bench mark, 10 million next year and by 2019 we are going to have 20 million. We are going to ease the free visas to 5 countries; China, Japan, Australia, Russia and South Korea. And also next we are going to make it easier for marine tourism like to bring super yard sale booths to Indonesia. Currently, if cruises are planning to go to Indonesia, just to apply with the permits takes three weeks to one month, that’s too long. Now we try to shove it to become 1 day hopefully, in one window online. And I hope we can have this by the end of this month and by doing so, we hope to have addition foreign tourists up from 450,000 in which we will be spending around $540 million because the spending cost for each of the tourist is an average of $1200. Everybody loves to invest in Indonesia.

Number four is through maritime diplomacy, Indonesia invites other nations to cooperate in the marine field and eliminate the source of conflicts at sea, such as illegal fishing, violations of sovereignty, territorial disputes, piracy and marine pollution.

And finally number five is that, as a maritime nation, we have an obligation to develop our maritime defense forces, necessary not only to maintain maritime sovereignty and wealth, but also as a form of our responsibility to maintain the safety of shipping and maritime security.

What message would the Government like to send to foreign investors?

Yes and for this single window permit application and for the central government we will finish by the first quarter of 2015 and at the same time the ministry is working under my coordination like the Minister of Transportation, within one month he is able to simplify 200 permits, those usually take about 30 days to get, to not bigger than 15 days. For those firms that start with 15 days, it now becomes 7 days. At the same time also, those permits don’t need to be extended every few years. Because you don’t have to have an extension of the permit every year after there is no such new policy.

The starting of this government, in my assessment, is when the President established this working cabinet. I have seen the stock market statements, after one month we know the stock is going up. So it gives me the confidence that this new government is increasing, day by day so I’m amazed, it’s a plus. I am inviting more investors to come.

Coordinating 4 key ministries that are more or less 70% of the non tax revenues of the government,  how do you manage to coordinate all this massive effort for the wellbeing of the country?

The president sets the policies. We implement the policy, for example to set up the 35,000 megawatts output I have to coordinate with many ministers. We have to find out what is the problem, to build up our plan, it’s got to be done by both, the state electric company and the private sector right. Just to build a power plant you need 52 permits, so we have to simplify that one, plus we can do that easily in the central government but now it’s also this centralized activity. So we have to deal also with the district government and the provisional government will do this. So you see, to build 35,000 megawatts, I have to coordinate all activities.

Talking now about the tourism, to get the free visas and to get an easy permit for the cruise ships coming in, I have to work with not only with Minister of Tourism but also Foreign Affairs. I have to go to the Minister of Law and Justice. I have to talk with the Minister of Finance regarding customs. Talking about transportation, how many permits do you think you would need if you want to build a harbor? 200.

First issues to deal with is to start simplify the permits, try to deal as much as possible on the land acquisition issues and it is progressing and we gain confidence for the foreign investors who will have to plan to come to Indonesia.

And as you once said, in order to take Indonesia to the next step you need the support of the private sector, so you are easing, improving the use of doing business but why would you say, also bearing in mind the readers of The Independent are investors and key decision makers, they should choose Indonesia to place their investments? What is Indonesia’s competitive advantage regarding other countries in the region?

Just to start with, actually we are in ASEAN. Number 2, with 250 million people, this is a good market to move on. Number three, we have what we call joker democratic bonus, these people in the protective hitch, 50-60 years old and if they are healthy they are well educated and trained it is not impossible by 2030 Indonesia will become the economic powerhouse in the world. The democracy is third largest after India. Indonesia, the largest free market democracy in the world is number two after the US.

We should pay for that.

Like the oceans, did you know that we have 8,500 species of fish? We have the largest mangrove in the world at 3.3 million hectors. We have the largest sea grasses in the world. We have 60,000 square kilometers of coral reefs. Those resources have to be well managed in order to be able to adapt with the new climate issues. But at the same time also the mangrove, sea grasses also contribute the provisions of oxygen for the global population, so this is the thing that keeps us very confident going forward. Some of the decisions that have been made including the increasing of oil, gasoline prices and so on are for the benefit of all.

What would you highlight from your vast experiences in different positions in the past and also what would you like to leave behind once you leave office?

Good living resources and long living resource are all the infrastructure that we are going to build, with all efforts we are going to face the challenges, as we are aiming only at one issue. So while we are looking forward through this effort, we should be able to bring the Indonesian people much better welfare conditions. It is time for the Indonesian people as a whole to be able to reap the benefits and become a sovereign country on par with other new emerging economies of the world and I say Indonesia will be ready to stand and to sit together with all newly developed countries in the world. That is my objective actually, with all the efforts that it will bring benefit to my people.