Jakarta. Several ministries and government institutions are in discussion to formulate a new omnibus bill to sort out overlapping responsibilities and authorities in Indonesia's maritime affairs and strengthen the country's coast guard, officials said on Tuesday.
The plan was made public on Tuesday after the Indonesian military (TNI) was involved in a standoff with Chinese coast guard escorting fishing boats into Indonesia's exclusive economic zone in the North Natuna Sea last week.
The Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan said one of the main goals of the omnibus bill is to install the Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla) as Indonesia's only coast guard, a role now held by the Sea and Coast Guard Unit (KPLP) of the Transportation Ministry.
The KPLP lacks firepower as all the country's warships are under the command of the Indonesian Navy.
The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud M.D. also held his own meeting in Jakarta on Tuesday to discuss the plan with institutions including the Immigration Office and the Bakamla.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had ordered the two ministers to prepare a new regulation to solve Indonesia's maritime problems.
According to Mahfud, during a cabinet meeting in December the president complained of an overlap in responsibilities and authorities between at least seven maritime institutions, including the Bakamla, the Water Police and the Indonesian Navy.
"We have several laws in place already and all of them have the right philosophy. However, we need more synergy. An omnibus law will give us that," Mahfud said.
The plan is the latest move in the government's sweeping regulatory reform – the brainchild of President Jokowi.
The Jokowi administration wants to propose a so-called omnibus bill to revise hundreds of conflicting articles in numerous existing laws simultaneously.
The government had already planned to submit the bills on job creation, taxation and small and medium enterprise empowerment.
It has the option of submitting an omnibus bill on maritime affairs to the House of Representatives or issuing a government regulation in lieu-of-law to bypass deliberation with the lawmakers.
Mahfud said 24 laws related to maritime issues were discussed in Tuesday's meeting, with more to follow.
The first time it was discussed last month, 17 laws were being considered, he said.
Since each institution is governed by its own regulation, Mahfud said there had been cases when an investigation had to end abruptly because another agency felt it had the authority to stop the case.
The omnibus law is expected to bring all decision-making processes related to maritime affairs, including in defense and security, through "one door."
"We hope we can complete the bill this year since the president had been waiting for two and a half years for it to happen," Mahfud said.