Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Indroyono Soesilo at the offices of BeritaSatu Media Holdings on Thursday.  (BeritaSatu Photo/ Danung Arifin)

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Faces ‘Mega-Task’ to Realize Joko’s Vision

FEBRUARY 27, 2015

 Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Indroyono Soesilo at the offices of BeritaSatu Media Holdings on Thursday.  (BeritaSatu Photo/ Danung Arifin)

Jakarta. Indroyono Soesilo is not a new name in Indonesia’s maritime affairs, with his background in the government agency tasked with marine and fisheries research.

Still, many people wondered what the coordinating minister for maritime affairs would be able to do, as he currently does not have any staff, or a permanent office, while he actually has a heavy responsibility, especially to ensure that President Joko Widodo’s ambition of Indonesia becoming a maritime fulcrum can succeed.

Minister Indroyono visited the offices of BeritaSatu Media Holdings on Thursday, where he explained his “mega-tasks,” such as safeguarding Indonesia’s maritime sovereignty, accomplishing infrastructure projects worth more than Rp 1,000 trillion ($7.7 billion), while securing billions of dollars in state revenue from the nation’s natural resources.

“The president has a vision. He wants Indonesia to be a nation that is strong in maritime affairs,” said Indroyono, who is a former director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s fisheries and aquaculture division.

When Joko announced his cabinet last year, he appointed Indroyono in his current position, which involves coordination the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries; Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources; Transport Ministry and Tourism Ministry.

“For now, I am the only official in this ministry, but I hope the president will soon sign a presidential regulation related to my ministry. I am expecting to have 100 staff members, four deputies and one secretary to the ministry,” he said, adding that he is now temporarily based at the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) headquarter in Jakarta.

Indroyono has experience working in a bureaucracy. He was director general of sea research and exploration in the Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries (1999); head of the government’s maritime and fisheries research agency (2001-2008); and secretary at the Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare (2008-2010).

On Thursday, he shared his plans with BeritaSatu Media Holdings, of which in general, his focus will be directed to three aspects: safeguarding the nation’s maritime sovereignty, managing the nation’s natural resources and assisting the development of infrastructure that will aid connectivity between islands, help reduce logistical costs and support manufacturing.

One of his mega-tasks involves raising Indonesia’s status from a lower-middle-income country to that of an upper-middle-income country. For this, Indonesia’s gross domestic product must almost triple from the current $3,500 per capita to $10,000.

“A large part of it will be coming from the maritime sector,” his presentation showed.

Indroyono was vague when asked when the target would be achieved, saying: “Well, many said we can only achieve it by 2030.”

He said that while it may take decade and a half, such ambition was still important.

“Why is this number still important? We need to ensure that we are not trapped in that $3,500 per capita GDP. We may often hear of the middle-income trap, many countries cannot take off,” he explained.

 Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Indroyono Soesilo at the offices of BeritaSatu Media Holdings on Thursday.  (BeritaSatu Photo/ Danung Arifin)

Border areas

His other target involves electrification of Indonesia’ border territories, especially in the 50 islands that are situated on the outer part of the country’s territory.

But the presentation showed Indonesia still has plenty of homework to do to settle its maritime boundaries with its neighbors.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 recognizes Indonesia’s maritime territory of 3.1 million square kilometers and exclusive economic zone of 2.7 million square kilometers surrounding its 13,400 islands with a 81,000km coastline.

But not all the homework has been done yet. According to Indroyono’s presentation, Indonesia has only agreed on 44.12 percent of its sea borders with neighboring nations and 54.66 percent of its exclusive economic zone.

“If you are a homeowner, wouldn’t you be busy securing your certificate? That’s our certificate, many [details] are still left incomplete,” the minister said.

Indroyono added that President Joko’s administration has set aside Rp 12 trillion to develop the country’s border areas.

But it is not only electricity, Joko also tasked him to supervise the development of nine airports in the border areas, which will be in Seibati (Riau Islands province), Rote (East Nusa Tenggara), Saumlaki (Maluku), Miangas (North Sulawesi), Nunukan (North Kalimantan), Enarotali (Papua), Tanah Merah (Papua), Oksibil (Papua) and Okaba (Papua).

When asked whether he approved of  Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti’s action to sink vessels fishing  illegally in Indonesian waters, which has since turned out to be a controversial issue, his answer was: “We [the government] agreed that there is nothing wrong with it.”

He pointed out that the European Union, the United States to Australia are always on the hunt for poaching boats that enter their territories illegally.

Indonesia has so far sunk 13 vessels from countries including Malaysia,  the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand that have entered its waters illegally.

Indroyono’s other target involves a push to increase fish production to 40 million tons per year. Fish production currently stands at about six million tons per year.

The minister has also set a target to boost foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia to 20 million by 2019 with a revenue target of Rp 240 trillion.

Last year, 9.44 million foreign tourists visited Indonesia.

Indroyono’s ministry has further set a target to build seven marinas along the most popular yachting routes (Saumlaki, Ambon, Kupang, Tarakan, Labuan Bajo, Belitung and Pangkal Pinang).

From the marine and fisheries sector, Indroyono is tasked to help the country to book non-tax revenues of $150 million in 2015 compared to $30 million in 2014. Non-tax revenues of $2.5 billions are projected for 2019.

Another mega-task for him is to assist with the development of 35,000-megawatt power plants that will involve more than Rp 1,000 trillion in investment.

“Do you know how many permits an investor must secure and how long they can get it before they can build an independent power plant? It’s 52 permits and it may take about 900 days,” he said.