I fully agree with the remarks of Pak Lesmana voiced in the article titled "Buleleng *not ready' for int'l marine event," (The Jakarta Post, Oct. 50, Bali page) and would respectfully add the following observations.
It seems that the maritime industry is for most Indonesian government policymakers an alien activity. Indonesia consists of more than 17,000 islands of which 6000 are inhabited. This fact alone would be a clear indication that Indonesia by nature should have been an important and great maritime nation with healthy and striving ports and shipping sector for trade and leisure.
Sadly nothing is farther from the truth. Direct foreign investment to strengthen this worldwide highly profitable sector is practically nonexistent in Indonesia. Worse, the few successful Indonesian ship owners still have their ships trading under foreign flags, due to high cost levies and taxes if they bring their vessels under the Indonesian flag.
Indonesia's ports are currently governed according to the 1992 Shipping Law and its supporting regulations. The new regulatory regime, under the umbrella of the 2008 Shipping Law, will not be fully implemented until 2011. The port system is organized into a hierarchical system of approximately 1700 ports.
There are 111 ports, including the 25 main "strategic" ports, which are deemed as commercial ports and are controlled by the four state-owned Indonesian Port Corporations (thereafter IPCs), Pelindo I, II, III and IV. In addition there are approximately 614 UPT or noncommercial ports that tend to be unprofitable and are of little strategic value.
There are also approximately 1,000 "special purpose" or dedicated private ports that serve the needs of individual companies (both private and state-owned) in a number of industries including mining, oil and gas, fishing, forestry etc. Some of these ports have facilities that are appropriate for only one or a group of commodities (e.g. chemicals) and have limited capacity for the accommodation of third-party cargo. Others, however, have facilities appropriate for a broad range of commodities, including in some cases, containerized cargo.
Currently Pelindo enjoy a legislated monopoly in the main commercial ports as well the regulatory authority over private sector ports.
In almost all of the main ports, Pelindo acts as both sole operator and port authority, dominating the supply of all major port services, for instance, port waters (including dredged channels and basins) for vessel traffic movement, anchoring and berthing and setting tariffs, tugs and pilot services.
Indonesia could be one of the international preferred cruise and yachting destinations, especially Bali, which, if government policymakers were aware of the huge economic potential (present opportunity losses are being calculated as high as US$20 billion a year), having the knowledge and clear vision and dedication/political will to improve the economic conditions of the Balinese people in particular and the Indonesian economy in general.
With the right development plans, cost calculations and feasibility studies, direct foreign investment will be easy to contract.
Jan. R. Scheele
Bogor, West Java