Wed, 29 Nov 2000

The BKPMD paper chase

Not long ago Vice President Megawati gave this challenge to people: Don't just complain; give us your suggestions. Accordingly, I'd like to make a suggestion to the Minister of Industry and Trade Mr. Luhut Panjaitan. Last July my company signed an agreement to perform work for the North Sumatra BKPMD. In October we submitted our bill. Recently we began to inquire when the bill might be paid. And inquired, and inquired. For two weeks the key personnel were out of the office. They were at the airport meeting people, or in Jakarta, or belum masuk (haven't come in yet) or sudah pulang (have gone home).

Finally a letter came saying the Provincial Investment Coordinating Board (BKPMD) was ready to settle the bill. According to the letter, to receive payment we had to submit copies of our tax number, my university certificates, the work agreement between BKPMD and my company, and proof that the work had been completed. If BKPMD had required certain documents in advance of signing the work agreement, this might make sense. Asking for them after the work has been completed seems either negligent or obstructive. In fact all this information is already on file with the BKPMD office, probably in quintuplicate. The more basic issue is that this repetitious and unnecessary demand for superfluous documents is the kind of thing that by now the ministry should have been able to reform. It opens the door for an "arrangement" whereby some requirement can be waived in exchange for an unofficial administrative payment (though in this case no such suggestion was made).

This problem is not unique to BKPMD; it is endemic in the bureaucracy. But the practice seems especially counterproductive in the board's provincial offices, which presumably are trying to impress investors with their helpfulness and efficiency. Ironically, the overabundance of documents has clearly not resulted in integrity of operations.

I hope Mr. Panjaitan might help expedite the payment of our fee. I would also like to suggest that someone review all procedures used in regional offices, for the purpose of eliminating unnecessary paperwork, inefficiencies and opportunities for corruption. Last July I hand-delivered an outline for a pilot program for governance reform in the BKPMD-SU to a member of President Abdurrahman Wahid's staff when the President visited Medan. There has not been a response to the proposal.

Revising burdensome procedures like those noted here would be an easy place to start the march toward efficiency and good governance. If someone doesn't act, we can only guess what bureaucratic machinations autonomy might bring.


Medan, North Sumatra