Tue, 13 Jun 2000

House proposes bills to start up two new provinces

JAKARTA (JP): The House of Representatives proposed on Monday two bills to establish two new provinces -- Bangka and Belitung Islands in South Sumatra and the Riau Archipelago off Riau mainland -- to prepare for economic development in the two territories.

The two new bills were submitted by legislators to the House's plenary session presided over by House Deputy Speaker Soetardjo Soeryogoerito.

Darmansyah Husein, representing the 80 legislators who proposed the bill on Bangka-Belitung province, said in the meeting that considering objective conditions required by law, Bangka and Belitung Islands were feasible to be developed into a new province.

He said that in the current situation, both islands are far off the South Sumatra mainland making it difficult for the provincial administration to control and provide public service to residents of the two islands.

"Local officials of the two islands currently must wait for days to even submit anything to the South Sumatra provincial capital and what's more, more than 200 islets near Bangka and Belitung are underdeveloped because of poor transportation and communications," he said.

He also said Bangka and Belitung with a total size of 16,300 square kilometers have strong economic potential to develop in the future because the territory is rich with natural resources, including tin and spice.

"Bangka and Belitung, now a regency, together are far larger than Bali and Banten and they have potential to grow if they are developed into a new province," he said, explaining that the regency is known as the largest tin supplier in the world.

Meanwhile Ferry Mursidan Baldan from the Golkar Party said the Riau archipelago consists of islands rich with natural resources and lies in a strategic position between Sumatra and Malaysia and Singapore.

"Several islands, especially Batam and Bulan, have developed while the Natuna Islands, located near the South China Sea, are known for their mining deposits," he said.

The House is currently deliberating the bill on Banten province, scheduled to be passed into law by the end of this year. (rms)