Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik and Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar painfully discovered Sunday that most of the computers for processing visas on arrival at the immigration counters of Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali were out of order.
This certainly caused long lines of exhausted, weary visitors waiting through the slow manual process.
The finding, made by the two ministers during a spot check of the Ngurah Rai international terminal, certainly did not bode well for our tourism promotion, especially since Bali is our most popular tourist destination and Ngurah Rai is the sole gateway to the Island of the gods.
However, the ministers’ move is the kind of real action badly needed during the first 100 days of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration to build up public confidence in his new Cabinet.
The inspection may seem like a small, ceremonial gesture, but it will have a great impact on tourism promotion. In one fell swoop, both ministers found the root of the problems that many tourists have long complained about, and we assume both could immediately decide on a real solution to that problem right on the spot.
What a shame that such a basic bureaucratic bottleneck still besets the gateway to the country’s most popular destination, especially during the ongoing Visit Indonesia campaign.
The government has yet to announce in detail its 100-day programs. Moreover, the outlines of the programs in 15 top-priority sectors announced by the President last week were too brief to explain the series of real action we hope will be able to produce breakthrough solutions to various problems.
Worse yet, public attention and media hysterics over the past three weeks seem to have been hijacked by the tussle between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the National Police and Attorney General’s Office.
We need more concrete moves like the joint action by Ministers Wacik and Akbar to remove what Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Radjasa calls bottlenecks. The technical problems at the visa processing units at the Bali airport terminal, whether caused by budgetary red tape or a corrupt attitude on the part of bureaucrats who prefer the manual process, are a bottleneck to the flow of tourists (passengers).
The cooperation between the tourism and justice ministers is the right kind of inter-ministerial action we need to remove numerous bottlenecks to the flow of people, goods and services.
For instance Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu cannot do much in the way of promoting domestic and foreign trade if the customs service remains largely inefficient and corrupt, port-handling services and stevedoring services inadequate and very slow.
In fact, most of the key factors to smooth trading activities lie beyond her jurisdiction and consequently out of her control. She needs good cooperation on the part of other ministers in charge of transportation, customs, quarantine and other departments involved in port activities.
Likewise, the highly capable new chief of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), Gita Wirjawan, would simply be wasting his valuable time and expertise in that important portfolio if no significant improvement was made in the investment climate, in the ease of doing business.
Gita has the mandate only to market and promote Indonesia as a preferred place for investment, but almost all the requirements that favor investment and doing business fall under the jurisdiction of other Cabinet ministers.
Gita, like Culture and Tourism Minister Wacik and Trade Minister Mari, requires good cooperation on the part of other ministers to remove the clogs to the issuance of the various permits needed by investors.