Category: Economy

Indonesia wants more respect for its currency

Foreigners visiting Indonesia often joke that they become instant millionaires once they change their cash into the local currency, the rupiah. Continue reading “Indonesia wants more respect for its currency”

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”

Fighting foreign poachers

It was no April Fool’s Day joke when on April 1 Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries sent in whole and in pieces 81 illegal fishing boats to the bottom of the sea simultaneously at 12 locations across the country.

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, in another show of force to reassert her ministry’s tough stance to combat illegal fishing, led the sinking and blowing up of the vessels, 75 of which were foreign, from Ambon province which is close to the Arafura Sea on the eastern part of the country.

“This is to tell the people, that there was a time when thousands of foreign vessels came to steal our fish and now they know that Indonesia can actually combat such a crime,” she said in a statement after leading the operation that stretched to the Natuna Islands on Indonesia’s northernmost maritime frontier and borders the South China Sea, where most of the ships – 29 – were destroyed.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-01 at 19.47.08
Photo: Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry/Didik Heriyanto

The Natuna Sea and the Arafura Sea are both fertile fishing grounds and often infested with illegal fishing boats.

Yunus Husein, the deputy head of Task Force 115, which was set up to combat illegal fishing, said the eastern waters of Indonesia is still prone to risks of illegal fishing and by choosing to lead the operation from Ambon, the ministry wanted to reaffirm that illegal fishing should no longer happen in the Arafura Sea. It also aimed to show support to the Indonesian Navy’s Eastern Fleet and other law enforcement agencies in the eastern region to take firm measures in deterring poachers.

“We hope Sino serves as a symbol of our victory against fish plunderer, after years of defeat, especially in eastern Indonesia,” Susi said, referring to the name of the two ships, Sino 26 and Sino 35 that were sunk in Tihlepuai waters off Morella village in Ambon.

The ships’ names indicated a relation to China, and Yunus said the Indonesian-flagged ships were owned by an Indonesian company with a Chinese investor.

To date, Indonesia has sunk 317 illegal fishing vessels since October 2014 and most of them were from neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

Since January to March 21, the ministry’s patrol boats have apprehended 40 illegal fishing boats, which included 36 boats from Vietnam while the rest were from The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Poaching fish in Indonesia’s waters is a crime punishable by maximum six years in prison and a maximum fine of 20 billion rupiah.

“Illegal fishing is rampant in Indonesian waters because we have not been able to tap this potential resource,” said Akhmad Solihin, a lecturer at Bogor Agricultural University’s School of Fisheries and Maritime Sciences.

While he agrees that blowing up illegal boats could create a deterrent effect to poachers, he urged the government to improve the investigation procedures for foreign boats to ensure that the legal process is conducted fairly and especially to provide proper translators for foreign seamen.

“I think the best solution to combat illegal fishing is by forging bilateral relations with fishing poachers’ countries of origin, to form agreement that those countries’ government could prosecute the fishing companies or fishing boats’ owners to pay compensation to Indonesia for poaching in our waters,” Akhmad said.

Meanwhile, Abdul Halim, the director for Jakarta-based advocacy group Maritime Studies Center for Humanity, said that while Susi seemed to be gaining grounds in combatting foreign poachers, local fishermen were not able to yield much from the abundant fishing resources.

This is due to due to a ministerial regulation that prohibits the use of trawling nets and dragnet fishing and bombs that damage coral reefs within Indonesian waters.

“There is no solution on what the fishermen can use to catch fish in place of the prohibited nets,” Abdul said.

Viva Yoga Mauladi, a lawmaker from a House of Representatives’ commission that oversees maritime affairs called on the government to review the regulation due to widespread refusal from various fishing community. In place of the prohibited nets, the regulation stipulates that fishermen can only use the ecosystem-friendly gill net.

After visiting a coastal community in Lamongan, East Java on March 31, he said that fishermen in Lamongan refused to use the recommended gill net.

“They have been using trawling nets and dragnet fish for a long time and they don’t want to use the gill net as it only incurs losses for them,” Viva said.

 

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.

Unit pengolahan cilacap

Pertamina refinery in Cilacap, Central Java. Photo: Pertamina.com

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.

 

Indonesia upbeat on prospect of Trump’s presidency

cxi8hnuukaeaokj
Deputy House Speaker Fadli Zon gave his insights during a TV interview on Trump presidency. Photo: Twitter @fadlizon

Donald Trump’s triumph in the US presidential election is expected to have both positive and negative impacts on Asia, and Indonesia in particular  Continue reading “Indonesia upbeat on prospect of Trump’s presidency”

Two years on, Jokowi emerges stronger

When Indonesian President Joko Widodo came to power two years ago after a closely fought election, he faced an opposition majority in the legislature bent on obstructing him. Continue reading “Two years on, Jokowi emerges stronger”

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
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?”