The Minister of the Interior (Minister of Home Affairs), Tito Karnavian, made a surprising announcement, late last October. According to the former National Police Chief, the planned division of Papua Province is certain to continue. The results of the division in the form of new provinces one of which will be named South Papua.
However, this government plan did not come under sharp criticism. Both the youth and senior economic figures gave warning about the impact of this plan. Not only related to the potential for sharp social friction, but also the swelling of the state budget.
For those who support, the expansion plan is precisely the right solution, especially in the handling of Papuan separatists who want an independent of Bumi Cendrawasih. Regional division makes them recalculate: will they divide the area of struggle throughout Papua that has an impact on the lack of power or chooses to concentrate in one Papua Province? The choice has a big risk.
For the government, in this case the Ministry of Home Affairs, the emergence of South Papua as a new provincial candidate is inevitable due to the political and social dynamics there. In fact, according to the former Minister of Home Affairs, Tjahjo Kumolo, the division of the province in Papua was a special case. The reason is, as many as 314 areas have been queued for provincial expansion, such as Sumbawa, Buton Islands, North Barito and South Barito, Nias, Tapanuli, Bogor, and Cirebon Province.
However, Tito will continue to advance with his plans. He said he had met the Merauke Regent, Frederikus Gebze, during a visit to Papua to discuss the new division for South Papua.
“The central government is likely to accommodate only the addition of two provinces. This is what we are exploring again, which is clear that South Papua is OK,” Tito said when met at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Jakarta, Tuesday (10/29/2019) as quoted by CNN Indonesia.
South Papua, said Tito, will take part of the Papua Province region: Mappi Regency, Boven Digoel Regency, Asmat Regency, and Merauke Regency. That way there will likely be regional expansion to fulfil the administrative requirements of the five district/city level. Merauke will be divided into two: Merauke Regency and Merauke City.
Tito also mentioned that there were two aspirations coming in for the expansion of the Papua region, in the area of South Papua and Papua Mountains. However, from the two regions, South Papua is ready to become a new province.
To the surprise of the public, this policy that has the potential to erode the country’s finances also received support from the Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani Indrawati. He even said that he was ready to arrange a budget for the discourse of the expansion of the Province of South Papua. The condition is that before the regional expansion budget is prepared, various provisions including the legal basis must also be completed.
“In the context of forming a new Province, of course there are steps from the legal side, regulations to support it, and later the budget implications,” Sri Mulyani said in Jakarta, Tuesday (10/29/2019).
The formation of the South Papua Province cannot be budgeted for in the 2019 State Budget (APBN) that will close the books in two months. Sri also has not been able to give an idea of the budget needed to form the Province of South Papua, even though the allocation might not be so great. Because, the process can be carried out in stages and the province’s expansion is not always new.
“For government buildings and others can use the existing one. Gradually it can be fulfilled,” she said.
However, the public has a perception that this expansion effort will burden the central government. Central government budget flowing into Papua in the form of special autonomy funds (Otsus) has the potential to increase. Even though the amount was already tens of trillions of rupiah.
Just look at 2018, autonomy funds reach IDR 12.03 trillion. The number is up 4.86% compared to the previous year’s realization. Based on the 2018 Central Government Financial Statements that have been audited, the amount consists of IDR 8.03 trillion of special autonomy funds and IDR 4 trillion in the form of Additional Infrastructure Funds (DTI).
In more detail, the special autonomy fund for Papua Province is IDR 5.62 trillion and West Papua Province is IDR 2.41 trillion, while the DTIs are IDR 2.4 trillion and IDR 1.6 trillion respectively. In the 2019 APBN, the government will again disburse autonomy funds for the two easternmost provinces in Indonesia amounting to IDR 12.66 trillion and IDR 13.54 trillion in 2020.
An almost similar opinion came from a Papuan youth leader, George Saa. George, who is one of the few young Papuans who have received education up to doctorate level abroad, said that the expansion of the South Papua region which was discussed by the Minister Tito would only extend the conflict that was happening in Papua.
As quoted by BBC.com, George said that he was referring to a number of conflicts that occurred in Papua, including armed conflict in Nduga to actions against racism that occurred in Papua and West Papua, according to data from the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), claimed at least 37 lives. If the provincial expansion occurs, George is worried that economic conflict will occur because he doubts that indigenous Papuans will enjoy the direct benefits.
“(If) the expansion of the incoming territory, the entry of development, will invite anyone with all forms of existing capital to enter (into Papua) and eventually the Papuans with their territory become the object of development,” said George.
George, who now lives in Jayapura, said that public dissatisfaction could trigger protests that could lead to violence.
Not a Solution
Economist of the Institute for Development Economics and Finance (Indef), Enny Sri Hartati, when interviewed by CNNIndonesia, Tuesday (10/29/2019), considered that the division of Papua Province was not a suitable solution for the welfare of the people of Papua. From previous experience so far it has not been seen with certainty that the region resulting from the expansion experienced significant economic development.
“There may be some that have increased, but that is not from the impact of provincial expansion. Even some regions that occur are not even getting better. The performance is even worse, for example the level of inequality and poverty,” Enny said.
Instead of prosperity, she assessed that the division would actually have the potential to increase elite capture (the dominance of the elite), which has often been a problem in Papua because the budget structure that has been determined in each region will not be different even though the division has occurred. The budget can be used to utilize by the elite.
“The budget structure in the regions including those in the division, same as before. More than 70% is also for the bureaucracy,” she said.
As a result, the budget used to equalize the economy and develop infrastructure can even become ammunition for the elite to misuse the budget. She assessed that the budget to be inserted by the government will have an impact on the division. With the division, the transfer of funds divided from general and special allocations can be increased, while bureaucratic spending remains the same.
“For example the bureaucracy was enough 10 trillion before the division, even after the division was 10 trillion. The implication is adding a new one, it means double in the budget,” she said.