TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri has held a lot of field inspections of late. He seems to be bothered by the rumors of foreign worker influx into Indonesia. Minister Hanif found a substantial number of illegal foreign workers or those who are unfit for the purpose during such field inspections.
Speaking to Sunudyantoro, Andi Ibnu, Hussein Abri Yussuf, Dewi Suci and Indri Maulidar of Tempo on December 31, Hanif reveals the ministry’s projection for 2017 and plans to manage workers.
How many is the expected number of foreign workers this year?
It will grow. There is a formula: if the investment is good, [the number] foreign workers will increase, such as in 2011, when economic growth reached 6 percent. There was an increase in the number of foreign workers into 75,000. We do need foreign workers. If we ban them all, we will lose investment.
Will there be any restriction?
Foreign workers are free to enter [Indonesia]. What is important is to apply for a permit to us. The permit must precede the worker. So, foreign workers will not be allowed to enter [Indonesia] before Manpower Ministry issues the permits. There are only 74,000 foreign workers here. Of whom 21,000 are Chinese. Compare that to 2 million Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia, 500,000 in Singapore, 200,000 in Hongkong. Yet, they have no problem with it. Why are we concerned?
How about the illegal ones?
There will be illegal workers anywhere in the world. Even a good system can be breached. We do exchange information [with other countries]. For example, if there were too many Indonesian illegal workers in Hong Kong, they will tell me and limit the quota of Indonesian migrant workers as a punishment and vice versa.
How does the government monitor illegal workers?
Every day, our officer will visit factories across Indonesia. You can check it if you receive any report. We have been accused of being reactive; wasn’t the case of illegal workers in Halim [Int’l Airport] was investigated by the government?
What is the reason behind the surge of illegal foreign workers? Is the licensing process difficult or complicated?
Indonesia has adopted online licensing application system. You can apply for them via cellular phone. Most of the foreign workers who come [to Indonesia] are unskilled workers and do not meet the requirements. They sure have made violations. But, I also have to say that legal foreign workers have to meet rigorous requirements. The application for positions, competence, mandatory technology transfers, is complicated.
How many private companies who supply foreign workers are operating in Indonesia?
Anybody can enter into an agreement on foreign workers employment, whether on business to business scheme, government to business, or government to government. Basically, before foreign workers can enter Indonesia, Manpower Minister must already have issued the permit.
On the other hand, how competitive are domestic workers?
They are more competitive in terms of wages. An average foreign worker is paid Rp15 million (US$1121.5) per month. Worker tax is US$100 per month. Domestic workers are paid starting from Rp3 million (US$224.3). We have thoroughly calculated regional minimum wage (UMR) raise which have been approved by all parties.
What about skills and competence for competitiveness?
[Domestic workers] are lagging. But we are planning policy package on vocational and internship that was started by Germany 300 years ago. We collect 1.5 percent from workers’ wages for retribution. On internship, we have got a commitment from 660 companies to change internship system. Internship students used to be exploited as coffee-makers. They will now receive competence certificates from us.