Category: Business

With a temperamental volcano looming, Bali beckons ready to welcome global financiers, bankers

Indonesia is gearing up to host the 2018 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group (AM 2018) in Bali in October, and despite the looming threat of volcano Mount Agung erupting, the government is convinced that all contingency plans are well in place as it looks forward to hosting up to 20,000 participants.

The volcano’s alert status has been lowered to level three or the second highest level, which means that the danger zone is reduced to a two-kilometer radius from the crater. The government also launched in August the official website for the event: Indonesia is the fourth Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member country to host the global meeting, after the Philippines (1976), Thailand (1991), and Singapore (2006).

Tasked to chair the organizing committee of the AM 2018 by President Joko Widodo is the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Resources Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, whose office oversees ministries and government agencies crucial to playing host to heads of governments, finance ministers, senior bankers, global CEOs and foreign journalists.

Dr Safri Burhanudin, the Deputy Minister for Human Resources, Sciences and Technologies and Maritime Culture at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Resources, who is in charge of supervising the preparations go as planned, explained the latest updates on the plan.

Safri Burhanudin planted a tree at Suwung landfill in Bali, in preparation to welcome delegates attending IMF-WB Annual Meetings in Bali, October this year. Photo: Kemenko Maritim/

How are the preparations going so far?

Preparations in terms of venues in Nusa Dua are all ready. We are going to have a meeting with the organizer in February to evaluate the preparation. There will be a team from the IMF and the World Bank that will come to check and evaluate everyting. We are also finalising side events. Indonesia is only hosting and providing the venues, but the main organizer is the IMF and the World Bank, so they are the ones that develop the event program. We will be in charge of hosting and ensuring security for the VVIPs and servicing them.

How many VVIPs will attend the meetings?

All finance ministers from 189 countries will attend, and 32 of the ministers also serve as prime ministers so the treatment will be different for finance ministers and heads of government. We also plan to welcome leaders of ASEAN countries. There could be a meeting of ASEAN leaders on the sidelines but it is still being discussed, and we are waiting the final decision. We hope the ASEAN leaders will attend the opening session, and prior to that they would be meeting the managing director of the IMF and the president of the World Bank.

How many participants do we expect to welcome in Bali?

About 17,000 participants are expected to come, but there could be more if they bring their spouses and their families, about 20,000 people. We’ve heard that since the event will be in Bali, their families will come along later for a vacation. There are 21 official hotels appointed in Nusa Dua, Tanjong Benoa, Jimbaran and other areas outside Nusa Dua. There are 4,000 rooms available in Nusa Dua hotels for this event, while we are going to welcome 17,000 participants. We also heard that Bank of America already booked 200 rooms in The Mulia in Nusa Dua.

Why is the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Resources in charge of the event, instead of the Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairss?

President Joko Widodo appointed Coordinating Minister Luhut as the head of the organizing committee, because we focus on the tourism part of this event, while the main program is already handled by the IMF and World Bank. We want to benefit the most from the annual meetings as a platform to promote Indonesia’s tourism and the tourism ministry is under the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Resources. That’s why we launched the Voyage to Indonesia (VTI) drive as a promotional program  with a number of activities such as seminars, public discussions and art exhibitions underway. We also offer the participants seven main tourist destinations that they can go to after the meetings, namely Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Mandalika in Lombok, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara if they want to see the Komodo dragons, Banyuwangi in East Java where they can choose to go to Mount Ijen for example, Yogyakarta and the Borobudur Temple, Toraja in South Sulawesi and of course Bali itself.

What about concerns regarding Mount Agung’s volcanic activity?

There were initial concerns regarding the volcano but it was because we didn’t communicate about it the right way. It made the public think that if the volcano erupts, the whole of Bali will be closed. So, we explained that technically if Mount Agung erupts, the farthest area affected will be 10 kilometers away from the crater, while Nusa Dua is 70 kilometers and the airport is 68 kilometers away. Even if there was some volcanic ash, the wind patterns would be mainly blowing to the east, not to the airport which is southwest of the volcano. If it erupts, it won’t affect the airport’s operations much.

What are the side events that Indonesia will organize?

There will be an economic forum that the Investment Coordinationg Board will coordinate and events to promote investment and the ease of doing business in Indonesia. Some of our main agenda will be to set up the Indonesia pavilion at the Westin Hotel and organize the Indonesia Gourmet and Food Festival, cultural performances, ASEAN Leaders Retreat and Host Country Reception at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park. The final rundown, however, will be released in April, as it is still now being discussed and will be evaluated during the spring meetings in Washington, DC.

Indonesia is footing the huge bill with Rp 868 billion to host this event, how are we going to benefit from it?

The cost we bear, including to organize major events such as the welcoming party and other promotional events, is not much compared to what we are going to get, which is a lot more. The participants are paying for the hotels, at least 17,000 hotel rooms and the increasing foreign exchange reserves through participant visits. We will be taking back most of the costs we spend for playing host.

What other special preparations are taking place, and is there any special infrastructure being built for this event? 

The infrastructure we built for this event is the underpass at the airport intersection before the entrance to the toll road, Tanjung Benoa cruise terminal, and Suwung landfill. The latter is already finished and it doesn’t emanate a stench anymore. We are also expediting the completion of the Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue. It should be finished by September. If all goes well, it will be the largest event we have ever hosted.

This article was first published in AmCham

It’s connectivity that matters: Indonesians use smartphones and internet for staying in touch

If there’s one thing that Indonesians can agree on when asked what smartphones and the internet are most useful for, it would be to access social media and messaging applications.

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A survey conducted by the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association (APJII) and the Indonesian Telecommunications Society (Mastel) showed that 95.1 percent of respondents use smartphones to access social media applications, while 73.7 percent said they use it to access messaging applications.

The survey was conducted across the country from October to November involving 1,020 respondents, more than half of them are high school and university students, followed by professionals and entrepreneurs.

The most popular social media applications among the respondents are Instagram with 82.6 percent, while 66.5 percent named Facebook and 49.6 percent said they liked Pinterest.

The top chat application is Line with 90.5 percent respondents, followed by WhatsApp and Blackberry Messenger with 79.3 percent and 33.10 percent  respectively.

Typical of these users is 19-year-old waitress Andini Sugeha, who says she uses Facebook most of the time but the features she most uses are messaging services.

Uploading photos and chatting with friends are what draws user to these applications the most.

“I use Facebook to upload photos while I also do that on Instagram, and I use WhatsApp as well to chat,” Andini said.

Media professional Ami Afriatni said she has been on Facebook for a decade and still uses it mainly to stay in touch with friends and families living in faraway places, while for her works she finds Twitter is most useful.

“It is helpful to get news updates, personal insights public figures might offer or official statements of some credible organizations. People also often take to Twitter to respond to recent issues and to express their stance,” Ami said.

As a budding photographer, she uses Instagram to sharpen her photographic skills, adding that the entertainment aspect of the photo sharing platform is the main draw for her.

In a reflection to the APJII and Mastel survery, Ami said social media and messaging applications are equally important but agreed that social media platforms have reached maturity while messaging applications are more important.

“I think there are rooms for improvement for this, let’s say creating a messaging applications that are more friendly to elders or communities who are less exposed to technology,” she added.

But the proliferation of hate speech, hoax and fake news on Facebook, especially as they relate to political preference, has made the world’s largest social networking platform no longer as enjoyable as it used to be, she said.


Internet stakeholders in Indonesia are well aware of the problems and in anticipation of regional elections this year, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, APJII and Elections Supervisory Body have launched a campaign against online hoaxes.

The three agencies, along with local representatives of internet giants including Google, Facebook, Telegram, Twitter, Line, MeTube, Bigo Live and Live Me signed on Feb 7 a memorandum of understanding to curb the spread of hate speech and fake news related to the elections.

ICT Minister Rudiantara said the drive to issue such declaration started in 2016 and every party involved in the online ‘ecosystem’ had an obligation to be part of it.

“So, there is no reason for service provider not to takedown [negative content] when the General Elections Committee and Elections Supervisory Body request for it because they are the independent bodies that organise the elections and are well aware of election rules and regulations,” Rudiantara said.

APJII chairman Jamalul Izza, said application providers and related parties agreed it was time for joint effort to curb negative content, as previous experience during the divisive presidential election in 2014 and Jakarta gubernatorial election last year showed how content that incited hate and misinformation directed at some candidates can flourish and go viral.

“Therefore, as the internet ecosystem in the country we agreed to safeguard the 2018 regional elections to make them free from negative contents and hate speech,” Jamalul said.

An APJII survey released in November showed that there were 132.7 million internet users in Indonesia, out of its 256 million population.

The ICT Ministry has been stepping up its efforts to ensure that the material available online does not breach local standards for behavior and morality. That includes material related to homosexual activity. In January, it asked Google to suspend applications related to LGBT activities from its Google Play Store so that they are no longer accessible in Indonesia.

It also said it has handled 72,407 complaints regarding pornographic content on the internet in January. Earlier in the month, the ministry has begun to operate an artificial intelligence-based censorship system to using keywords to detect and crawl pornographic content online.

The US$14-million dollar machine was installed following years of manual monitoring that failed to curb the flood of illicit contents on the internet, especially pornographic material. A ministry team will evaluate and verify the data crawled and take the necessary measures such as blocking the sites if they are validated to have inappropriate content.

“Global and national internet providers are urged to be active in ensuring the availability of positive contents and suppress negative material from spreading,” ministry spokesman Noor Iza said.

The story first appeared in Bangkok Post



Indonesia aims to emulate Norway in managing its mineral wealth

After three years leading Indonesia’s largest state-owned bank by assets, former Bank Mandiri chief executive officer Budi Gunadi Sadikin has a new role as special staff to Rini Soewandi, the Minister of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE).

In this role, which he started in late June 2016, Budi is charged with establishing a holding company made out of state-owned mining enterprises to re-do the way the government handles its future stakes in the industry.

Continue reading “Indonesia aims to emulate Norway in managing its mineral wealth”

New Pertamina chief faces one-price fuel policy challenge in a vast archipelago

The newly appointed president director of state-owned energy firm Pertamina, Elia Massa Manik, has a huge task ahead to carry out President Joko Widodo’s one-price fuel policy, in the face of inadequate infrastructure to distribute fuel to the country’s remote areas and far-flung islands in the Indonesian archipelago.

Maryati Abdullah, the national coordinator for PWYP Indonesia, a civil society coalition for energy and extractive industry governance reform, considers the policy is viable if Pertamina could import crude oil at a much more affordable price and refine it in its own refineries.

“They could start by revitalizing its existing, old refineries so they could increase its production output, while also remain committed to developing new ones,” she said.

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Pertamina refinery in Cilacap, Central Java. Photo:

Widodo announced the policy in October 2016 during a visit to Yahukimo, a district near the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border in the easternmost province of Papua. Due to the location and lack of infrastructure in Papua and the eastern part of Indonesian archipelago, fuel prices can cost up to a dozen time more from the normal price of 6,450 rupiah per liter for petrol and 5,150 rupiah per liter for solar. The policy is expected to cost Pertamina about 800 billion rupiah annually.

Fahmy Radhi, an economic energy analyst from Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta agrees that having its own production infrastructure could give Pertamina wider fuel distribution coverage.

“If it has its own refineries, Pertamina won’t have to import up to 650,000 barrel per day. This is a huge amount that the oil and gas rent seekers have been cavorting around,” Fahmy said.

Kurtubi, a lawmaker from the House of Representatives Commission VII which oversees energy and mineral resources said as a company drawn to constitutional obligation about exploitation of the country’s natural resources should benefit the people, there is more that Pertamina has to consider in its operation than merely making a profit.

Article 33 in Indonesia’s 1945 Constitution states that “sectors of production which are important for the country and affect the life of the people shall be controlled by the state and the land, the waters and the natural riches contained therein shall be controlled by the State and exploited to the greatest prosperity of the people.”

“One-price fuel policy is a constitutional mandate. Pertamina could do it as long as the cost is efficient,” Kurtubi, who goes by one name, said.

“The new president director has to be able to operate the company without contradicting the constitution,” he added.

Kurtubi also said that cutting fuel import should be high in Pertamina’s agenda under Manik’s leadership.

“It should develop its own refineries so that Pertamina could produce its own fuel to meet the domestic demands,” Kurtubi said, adding that the existence of a refinery in a certain area could also create multiplier effects that would boost the local economy and open new jobs.

Manik was appointed to head the company during Pertamina’s general shareholders meeting at the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry in Jakarta on March 16, more than a month after then-chief executive Dwi Soetjipto and deputy director Ahmad Bambang were ousted on Feb 3 because of what the government – its majority shareholder – was a leadership problem and a lack of teamwork.

Manik, who was the president director of PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) III, the holding company of 14 state plantations firms since April 2016, is an alumnus of Bandung Institute of Technology and Asean Institute Of Management.

In his first address to Pertamina’s employees, Manik said he would focus on strengthening the company’s human resources and maintaining Pertamina’s improved performance for the past years.

Sudirman Said, the then-energy and mineral resources minister, said in 2015 that Pertamina was able to save 250 billion rupiah per day after ousted CEO Dwi in 2015 disbanded Pertamina Energy Trading Limited (Petral), a Singapore-based Pertamina subsidiary handled crude and fuel oil imports for the state energy company and was notorious for being the oil and gas rent seekers’ den.

“There are many important projects we need to execute to achieve the national energy security goal, therefore it is important to gain trust so that we can adeptly carry out the projects,” Manik said.

PWYP Indonesia had urged the government to select the new president director in a transparent, credible and independent manner, following the Feb 3 ouster of Dwi.

Maryati said the government didn’t say much about the reason they appointed Manik, but given his public track record on improving corporate efficiency, she holds a favorable view that Manik would be efficient in his human resources planning and be able to restructure various executive positions to a more effective appointments.

“We also hope he would not be swayed by certain political interests,” Maryati said.


Alvin Tjitrowirjo: Product Designer with a Mission

A lack of appreciation for locally-made products in Indonesia motivated designer Alvin Tjitrowirjo to create a contemporary design language steeped in the country’s traditions and culture for his furniture brand. Continue reading “Alvin Tjitrowirjo: Product Designer with a Mission”

Indonesian pilots see the sky is limited

Students train to fly an aircraft at the state-owned Indonesian Aviation Institute (STPI) in Curug, Banten. Photo courtesy of STPI

The Indonesian transportation ministry plans to kick off development of new airports in 13 locations from 2017 to 2019 to meet Indonesia’s growing appetite for infrastructure and to increase the number of people using air transport for domestic and international travel. Continue reading “Indonesian pilots see the sky is limited”

It’s all about precision in Germany’s optical valley

Jena – High-precision laser light technology for industrial mass production and manufacturing is just one of the technologies that is coming out of Jena, the optical valley in east German state of Thuringia.

Located in the deep valley of the Saale River, Jena is the cradle of innovative, light-based technologies that began more than 150 years ago. It is also a European center for research in the field of optics and photonics, where ultrashort pulse laser for a more precise, subsurface cutting is being produced around the clock, thus earning its other nickname, “city of light”.

“The precise cutting allows smartphones and tablets to have more scratch resistance and robust display and camera. The laser pulses are also used for precise cutting of holes, such as for speakers, on hardened glass of smartphones and tablet displays,” said Stefan Nolte, a professor at the Institute of Applied Physics, Abbe Center of Photonics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, told a group of international journalists earlier this year.

“Drilling of fuel injection nozzles also uses ultrashort pulse laser as it allows adapted holes for an optimized gas distribution, which leads to lower emissions and reduces consumption by up to 20 percent,” Nolte added.

Dr. Christian Helgert, chief executive officer of the Abbe Center of Photonics and Abbe School of Photonics said photonic technology is ubiquitous in everyday life, encompassing communication, health, environment, mobility, data management and security with a major impact on the world economy, creating 300 billion euro in the global market.

“Growth in the photonics industry is more than doubled of the worldwide GDP between 2005 and 2011,” Helgert said.

Thanks to its three most famous residents Otto Schott, Ernst Karl Abbe and Carl Zeiss, Jena developed into an industrial city producing binocular, glasses and microscope during the second half of the 19th century. Zeiss set up an optics workshop in 1846 and centuries later it has become a household name for manufacturing optical systems, industrial measurements and medical devices, which added weight to Jena’s reputation as a research, scientific and economic hub in east German that the trio established.

Out of Zeiss’ approximately 25,000 employees worldwide, 10 percent of them are in research and technology, said Ulrich Simon, senior vice president of corporate research and technology of Zeiss.

“Our DNA is innovation. 80 percent of smartphones would not exist today if Zeiss didn’t exist,” he added.

Jena’s optical and optoelectronic industry has 175 enterprises with a turnover of 2.85 billion euro and 10 percent rate of research and development. The industry employs 15,200 people, including 4,500 scientists in 1,300 research institutes.

“The universities and research institutes provide the optical environment and big level of competency in terms of optical technology and development,” Simon said.

As Germany is bracing for a demographic change when the country will have less young people and more of those over 60, research institutes have also been focusing their works on technology that would suit the needs of an aging society.

The ultrashort laser for subsurface cutting, for example, would be useful for a more precise eye surgery while at Zeiss, one of the examples of medical technology used in its vision care is adaptive introduction lens to regain full vision after cataract surgery.

Hans-Joachim Hennings, the director general of research and innovation at the Saxony-Anhalt state ministry for science and economy, said the state is channeling 20 million euro from 2016 to 2020 to fund research on aging society topics.

“It will be used among other for research on early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases and development of phytopharmaceutical products and other effective substances against dementia,” Hennings said.

A research campus in Magdeburg, the capital city of Saxony-Anhalt also places quality of life for an aging society as the highest relevance on its biomedical engineering project.

The campus, which is established on a public-private partnership between the Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg, Siemens Healthcare GmbH and the Stimulate Association, aims to develop new imaging devices, intraoperative imaging methods, navigation devices, treatment planning and procedures for minimally invasive, image-guided interventions to treat cancer, cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

Urte Kägebein, a doctoral student at the Stimulate research campus showed how a magnetic resonance imaging machine has a very high magnetic field. Photo: The Parrot/Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata

Urte Kägebein, an electrical engineering doctoral student and researcher for interventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at the Stimulate research campus is working on a research to improve the current available MRI system to treat cancer.

She said that her research project aims to track the precise location of a tumor. If the tumor is located, the treatment would be minimally invasive and patients would not need to go through chemotherapy since the treatment would only need to puncture a needle to reach the tumor and heat the needle with 90 degrees heat to destroy the tumor.

“It would be a through-and-through puncture. The needle is inserted where the skin is marked and it cuts through the fat tissue to reach the target,” she said.

“We could only do this if we know exactly where the tumor is and if the tumor is on a precise location,” Kägebein added.

Precise visualization of tumors is also a focal point in research at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), a research centre in Dresden and a member of one of Germany’s top four research organisations, Helmholtz Association, which focus its research on six fields including matter and health.

HZDR emphasises its health research on cancer and the center’s interdisciplinary environment allows matter and health scientists to collaborate, such as on laser acceleration of ion beams for research in a therapy known as radiation oncology or the therapeutic use of ionising radiation to treat cancer.

Professor Thomas Cowan, the director of HZDR’s Institute of Radiation Physics said the research is a reflection of a major question that drives HZDR’s work on health research; “how can malignant tumors be more precisely visualised, characterised and more effectively treated?”