Fri, 03 Nov 2000

Indonesia ponders fees for visas on arrival

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra said on Thursday that the government was considering charging fees for the issuing of visas upon arrival for tourists from 47 countries, which have long enjoyed the visa-free facility granted by Indonesia.

He said the scheme was being discussed with the office of the Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs pending a cabinet decision.

"I think I need to explain the scheme to the public since many media organizations have wrongly reported the message," Yusril said, while quoting an Oct. 28 article in the Sydney Morning Herald daily entitled "Angry Indonesia hits tourists with tax".

He also cited an article in the Bali Post, which wrote that the policy only targeted Australians who had plans to visit Indonesia.

He said the government did not have the intention of taxing foreign visitors to Indonesia.

"What we are doing is reviewing the visa-free policy for a two-month visit which has been applied to 47 countries," Yusril said.

He said Indonesians had been receiving unfair treatment as they had to pay for their visas, while the citizens of the 47 countries could enter Indonesia for free.

He cited visa applications to the Australian Embassy, where Indonesians have to pay Rp 400,000 for their visas and wait for a week to find out whether their applications have been accepted or not.

If their applications were rejected, the money would not be refunded by the embassy, he said.

The minister said that with the new policy, Australians and citizens from other countries could simply come directly with their passports without having to secure a visa from any Indonesian government representative office.

"They can get their visa on arrival," he said.

Yusril stressed, however, that Indonesia would maintain the visa-free policy for Turkey, Hong Kong and all the member countries of ASEAN since Indonesia had reciprocal agreements with these countries. (01)