Minister annoyed by costly procedures, vows change

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Newly appointed Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno says he is shocked at the mass of red tape employers here have to wade through to hire expatriates and has pledged to quickly review the regulations.

Erman said the government was currently examining the 2003 Labor Law and Presidential Decree No. 75/1995, which it would likely revise to make it easier for foreigners to work here.

"The government will also take similar steps in other ministries and agencies to reduce the tangled bureaucratic procedures, which will hopefully stop investors from relocating to other countries," he told The Jakarta Post recently.

Calling the current system "complicated and restrictive", Erman said he had ordered the directorate general of labor inspections to closely supervise the issuance of work documents in the meantime.

However Erman, who replaced Fahmi Idris in early January, stressed foreign investors, expatriates and their families would continue to be required to have the correct paperwork to live and do business in the country.

"Besides supervising expatriates living and working here, the government is also keeping a close eye on tourists who abuse their visas to work illegally and those using illegal passports and visas involved in transnational crimes, such as human trafficking, drug smuggling and acts of terror," he said.

Separately, Kunjung Masehat, the director of expatriate employment affairs at the ministry, denied that the complicated procedures were being abused by his officials to extort money from employers.

Most sponsor companies entrusted middlemen to deal with officials to obtain the documentation for foreign workers, he said.

"To get a work permit, sponsors are required to propose an expatriate employment plan that must be approved by the minister or the labor placement affairs director general and get a temporary stay permit; all procedures which they are not charged a cent for. The expatriate employment plan (RPTKA) is approved within seven days and the temporary work permit (IMTA) must be issued within five days," he said.

Kunjung, however, underlined the two documents were issued only if all the complimentary documents were complete.

"Middlemen or agents have possibly paid officers for RPTKA and IMTA applications that are not supported by complimentary documents," he said.

Kunjung said the office was quite selective in issuing IMTAs because of the high unemployment here.

"Only positions that cannot be fulfilled by local workers are open to expatriates," he said.

About 47,000 expatriates were currently working in the manufacturing and mining industries, development projects and international organizations in the country, he said.

Director general of labor inspections Maruddin Simanihuruk said the directorate would soon launch an online system to streamline the processing of Indonesian migrant workers and expatriates.

The idea for the system had met strong opposition from the overseas labor placement directorate and the directorate of expatriate employment affairs, "but this is an instruction from the new minister and it is necessary to repair the ministry's tarnished image," Maruddin said.
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