Gov't to Review Visa-Free Policy Amid Concern Over Illegal Foreign Workers: Kalla

Vice President Jusuf Kalla in this file photo. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)

By : Novi Setuningsih & Eko Prasetyo | on 10:15 PM December 23, 2016
Category : News, Foreign Affairs, Labor, Security

Jakarta. Vice President Jusuf Kalla says the government will soon evaluate its visa-free policy, which allows the citizens of 169 countries free entry to Indonesia for tourism purposes.

Kalla said the visa-free dispensation – as regulated by Presidential Regulation No. 21/2016 – was implemented to boost foreign tourism to Indonesia, as the number of visitors is far lower than to neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

"We need to evaluate the policy to avoid a situation where no tourists are coming in from countries that are eligible for visa-free entry, such as African countries for example" Kalla said in Jakarta on Friday (23/12).

He admitted that the policy has some negative consequences, such as a small chance that people may enter the country as tourists to take up employment illegally.

"It is not easy for foreign nationals to come to Indonesia if they are only working as laborers. Why? Let's say the wage for workers here is around Rp 2 million to Rp 3 million [$149-$222]. In China, for example, the minimum wage is around Rp 4.5 million to Rp 5 million. So, it is not easy for them to work in Indonesia," Kalla said.

"There are almost no laborers wanting to come to Indonesia due to its low wages. So, even if we allow Malaysians and Singaporeans to enter without visas, no Singaporeans would want to work here as laborers," he added.

Firm Action

Kalla said the government would act firmly against any foreign nationals who abuse their tourist visas by working in Indonesia, similar to Indonesian workers being deported from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia for abusing their tourist visas.

"If there are any violations, we will have them sent back," Kalla said.

House of Representatives Commission XI previously called on the government to evaluate the visa-free policy because it is prone to abuse by illegal foreign workers.

"The policy has the potential to cause losses of more than Rp 1 trillion in state income. That is the leak that occurred this year, not mentioning potential losses due to the high risk of losing domestic employment opportunities," commission member Heri Gunawan said on Tuesday.

He warned that there are foreign groups trying to threaten national security by disguising themselves as tourists.

"And also drug trafficking and some groups that have the intention to spread radical ideologies," Heri said.

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