Workers - Photo by LS Cable

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesia opened wide doors for foreign workers to occupy strategic positions after the country’ ministry of manpower issued a new regulation. The policy is considered to be able to increase the amount of unemployment in the country, which on the other hand neighboring countries like Singapore also opens opportunities for foreign workers.

In the new regulation, the government has determined that 2,196 positions can be occupied by foreign workers in Southeast Asia biggest economy. The number increased from some previous regulations, covering 18 business sectors in Indonesia ranging from construction, manufacturing, education, and others.

The provisions are regulated in a Minister of Manpower Regulation signed August 27, 2019, perfecting several previous regulations that have been issued.

The position of Commissioner or Director who does not take care of personnel is permitted to be occupied by foreign workers, as long as it does not conflict with the provisions of the legislation.

In addition, in this new regulation, certain positions that can be occupied by foreign workers are divided into 18 categories, ranging from construction; real estate; education; processing industry; arts, entertainment and recreation; financial and insurance activities; information and telecommunications; to other service activities; and professional, scientific, and technical activities.

However, in almost all categories there were additional numbers of positions that could be filled by foreign workers compared to the previous provisions.

However, the rules were criticized by Bhima Yudhistira Institute for Development of Economics and Finance researchers. He considered that the steps taken by the government were not appropriate, because they were increasingly opening up certain position posts which could have been filled by Indonesian workers.

“If there really is a position where our labor skills are lacking, upgrading is done to fill the position rather than opening up opportunities for foreign workers,” Yudhistira told reporters on Friday (09/6).

Yudhistira said, if the government too opened wide positions that could be occupied by foreign workers, foreign companies in Indonesia would instead choose to employ foreign workers because of the similarity of language and culture. Especially if you see investments from China that have been pouring into Indonesia in recent years, this could result in increased unemployment in Indonesia.

“Opening a position to be occupied by foreign workers should be the last option. The most appropriate step is to provide upskilling and re-skilling for our workers,” Yudhistira said.

Besides Indonesia, Singapore is also still open and still has to open the door for skilled foreign workers to ensure the economy remains competitive, especially in the technology sector. Reportedly, minister of trade and industry Chan Chun Sung has said that the country was not able to take a protectionist approach like some other countries that protect the industry and local workers.

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