Editorial

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14
September

Asian Economic Forums

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Two international economic forums have just been held almost at the same time. The first forum is the Eastern Economic Forum -EEF with Russian sponsor, which was held on Tuesday 11 September 2018 in Vladivostok, Russia. Another forum is the World Economic Forum -WEF on ASEAN held in Hanoi, Vietnam 12 September 2018.

Although held almost at the same time, the two forums did not necessarily address the same issue. The World Economic Forum on ASEAN themed "ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution". Whereas, the Eastern Economic Forum -EEF held in Vladivostok became an antithesis of US policy towards China and Russia.

The WEF Forum in Hanoi is a good opportunity for ASEAN member countries to develop partnerships with partners and attract the attention and investment of international companies. Another thing to be achieved is access to new ideas and trends that occur in the region and in the world.

On the contrary, the EEF emphasized integration to overcome the economic pressures imposed by the United States on China and Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jin Ping agreed to increase trade by using their own currencies rather than the US dollar.

 Russia has been carrying out this Forum since 2015 to bring Russia's Eastern region closer to the rapidly growing East Asia. Russia needs to seek new opportunities, after the sanctions imposed by the US and European Union since Russia's occupation of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine in 2014.

Chinese President Xi Jin Ping was present for the first time at this Eastern Economic Forum. In addition to economic relations, China and Russia were also involved in joint military exercises at almost the same time.

The implementation of these two forums is an indication that Southeast and East Asia have become the driving force of the world economy. The dynamics of development in the region should be maintained to reduce the level of conflict; like on the Korean peninsula, Japan's relations with Russia over the islands in northern Japan, China's trade war with the USA.

This is all a challenge for Asian countries to cooperate. If the growth in Asia stagnates, this will affect the growth of the world economy.

13
September

 

On Wednesday, 12 September 2018, in Tangerang, Banten, based on the Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders, I Gusti Ngurah Askhara Danadiputra or Ari Askhara officially served as President Director of PT Garuda Indonesia, replacing Pahala N Mansury.

Throughout 2017, PT Garuda Indonesia suffered a loss worth US$213.4 million dollars, equivalent to Rp2.88 trillion. In 2016, Garuda managed to record a net profit worth US$9.4 million or around Rp126.9 billion. The losses during 2017 were due to increased spending by 13%, from US$3.7 billion to 4.25 billion dollars, mainly due to an increase in fuel costs by 25% from US$924 million to 1.15 billion dollars.

Ari Askhara has a target to reduce PT Garuda Indonesia's losses to less than US$ 100 million at the end of 2018 by closing the operating costs leakage gap, optimizing favorite routes, opening good economic value routes and improving employee performance. From 2013 to 2018, Askhara was a director of a number of companies, such as Director of Finance and Garuda Risk, and lastly in 2018, he served as President Director of PT Pelindo III.

Askhara will involve all employees and regulators in achieving the target. Part of his experience at Pelindo III will be applied on Garuda. One of them is the transformation of human capital. Because Garuda Indonesia is engaged in the service sector, employees’ happiness is very important so that service to passengers increases. Furthermore, he will attempt to increase revenue by creating new routes at several points of foreign tourist sources, and optimizing the old domestic routes compared to international ones.

To reduce operating costs and prevent inefficiency, there will be renegotiation of incoming aircraft leases, especially for narrow body and wide body existing flights in a bid to extend the lease period. So, the monthly rental fee will decrease by 10-20%.

Amid Rupiah’s worsening conditions and rising oil prices, the next step to be taken is redefining cost structure, changing and improving operational costs.

Along with other directors, such as Commercial Director -Pikri Ilham Kurniansyah, Director of Cargo and Business Development -M Iqbal, Operations Director Bambang -Adi Surya, Director of Finance and Risk Management -Fuad Rizal, HR Director -Heri Akhyat, Technical Director -I Wayan Susena and Service Director - Nicodemus P Lampe, Ari Askhara with the support of shareholders will try to realize the achievement of the target to reduce PT Garuda Indonesia's losses to below US$ 100 million by the end of 2018.

With the experience of leading various divisions in various companies along with the management of the new Garuda Indonesia, Ari Askhara's strong commitment is expected to become a reality, instead of writing on paper, with the support of various parties.

11
September

 

 

Today, September 11th. 2018, Radio Republik Indonesia –RRI commemorates its 73rd anniversary. Since its existence, RRI has provided invaluable contributions both in supporting the independence process, and filling the independence until today.

 

Then, the question is how does RRI keep up with current media developments that are required to more quickly disseminate information and reach more audiences with broadcast content that the community really needs?

To answer the question, Radio Republik Indonesia has 97 broadcasting stations consisting of 1 unit of A type, 30 units of B type, 34 units of C type, News Centre and Overseas Broadcast -Voice of Indonesia and 32 existing Production Studios.


As Information Safety Belt, during 2009 – 2010, RRI had established studios in border areas and remote areas, including in Entikong, Batam, Nunukan, Putusibaou, Malinau, Atambua, Ampana, Boven Digoel, Kaimana, Skow, Oksibil, Takengon, Sabang and Sampang. Broadcasts through these production studios are intended to enhance a sense of nationalism and provide balanced access to information for people in the border areas as well as in areas that previously could not receive RRI or blank-spot broadcasts.

 

In addition, RRI broadcasts can also be enjoyed via streaming or the internet. Even in 2018, RRI can be followed through RRINET, a visualized radio program where audiences can either listen or view broadcast content like a television broadcast.


Innovations in equipment and broadcast content as well as the development of human resource capabilities are a necessity in the times of development. What RRI is doing right now, especially for broadcast equipment and content is on the right track. But the existence of human resources, especially civil servants who are now getting fewer and fewer needs more serious attention. Regeneration and additional employees according to needs should also be a main priority.

 

Congratulation on the 73rd anniversary of Radio Republic Indonesia! Once On the Air, Forever !

06
September

 

The rupiah exchange rate against the United States dollar on Wednesday (05/09) continued to weaken. The average trade of interbank per US dollar was priced above Rp. 14,900.

The weakening of the exchange rate is not only experienced by the rupiah. The exchange rate of other developing countries also weakens, such as India weakening more than 10 percent, Brazil 20 percent, and  even, Turkey and Argentina reached more than 40 percent. The current rupiah weakening which reached 9.24 percent is still better than other developing countries such as India, Brazil but, the rupiah exchange rate looks more sluggish than the currencies of countries in Southeast Asia. The Philippine peso weakened to 6.99 percent, the Yuan reached 4.83 percent, the Korean Won reached 4.27 percent, the Malaysian Ringgit reached 2.23 percent, and the Singapore dollar reached 2.96.

The weakening of the rupiah exchange rate was largely influenced by negative sentiments both outside and within the country. The negative sentiments from outside such as the Federal Reserve's interest rate increase, the trade war between China and the United States, and the crisis that hit Turkey and Argentina. While negative sentiments from the country include foreign exchange purchases by corporations for large imports, and current account deficits. Indonesia's current account balance deficit is still in the range of three percent of Gross Domestic Product -GDP, affecting investor sentiment because foreign exchange reserves continue to be eroded to patch the deficit.

The Government and Bank Indonesia have made efforts to reduce rupiah depreciation. Bank Indonesia continues to be in the market to increase the volume of intervention both in the foreign exchange market and in the Government Securities market. All efforts of the government and Bank Indonesia have not been able to reduce the weakening of the rupiah.

Governor of Bank Indonesia –BI, Perry Warjiyo admitted on Tuesday (4/9/2018) that currently, the weakening of the rupiah is not natural because it does not reflect its fundamental value. He emphasized that the rupiah exchange rate which on Tuesday dropped to Rp. 14,900 per dollar is not reasonable and should not happen.

The question is whether there is a role for speculators in weakening the rupiah. The government has threatened to impose strict sanctions on speculators who have been trying out 'acting as speculators'. The Government’s threat to foreign exchange speculators, as stated by Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Darmin Nasution indicates that there are certainly speculators who are currently "speculating" the rupiah.

The government needs to prevent, and take action against them so as not to try to take advantage of this condition. The government along with Bank Indonesia and the Financial Services Authority –OJK must cooperate to prevent and crack down the speculators.

04
September

 

President Joko Widodo gathered his ministers and officials in the economic field to discuss the rupiah weakening. The meeting took place at the State Palace in Jakarta on Monday afternoon (3/8). During the meeting, President Joko Widodo asked his aides to explain to the public that the recent weakening of the rupiah against the US dollar was not worrying for the national economy. Chairman of the Financial Services Authority –OJK, Wimboh Santoso revealed this, when asked by reporters about President Joko Widodo's direction in the meeting.

Wimboh said that currently, OJK, Bank Indonesia and the government have prepared the steps to be taken in anticipating the weakening of the rupiah by strengthening exports to various countries. In addition, the government will also reduce imports of unnecessary goods. Quoting Bloomberg on Monday (3/9), the rupiah opened at Rp. 14,745 per US dollar; it was weakening compared to the previous trading closing figure of Rp. 14,710 per US dollar. If calculated from the beginning of the year, the rupiah weakened 9.03 percent.

What's interesting about Wimboh's statement is that the government plans to reduce the imports of unnecessary goods. According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), during January-July this year, the imports of consumer goods recorded $9.9 billion dollars, up 27.03 percent, compared to the same period last year. While at the same time, imports of raw or supporting materials rose 22.9 percent.

Considering that Indonesia is rich in natural resources, the reduction in the imports of unnecessary goods can refer to the import of raw or supporting materials. Strengthening the exchange rate of the US dollar against the rupiah can provide an opportunity for increasing use of local raw materials.

The price of local raw materials, which has been considered more expensive, may be equivalent or even cheaper compared to imported raw materials. The strengthening of the US dollar has the opportunity to make a comparison of local and imported raw material prices to adjust. Raw materials for the leather, plastic and chemical industries made domestically are a logical choice for businesses because they are bought with rupiah.

The strengthening of the US dollar has reduced the competitiveness of imported raw materials in terms of prices. This situation can be used as an opportunity for domestic producers to produce goods with cheaper local raw materials. Then, the community can have high purchasing power to buy goods in cheaper prices, compared to imported goods whose prices are affected by the strengthening of the US dollar. For the government, this will make efforts to reduce imports.

12
September

The armed conflict in Syria doesn’t  seem to be over. Those outside Syria who have a role in the civil war still play an important role in the crisis and bloodshed. Both the government and rebel camps can no longer escape from outside influences. A summit of  Turkey, Iran and Russia in Tehran a few days ago showed how other countries were so decisive in resolving the Syrian problem. When their talks failed to produce a breakthrough, there is a possibility of continuing war. This time the focus is Idlib. Idlib is a de-escalation zone established by Iran, Turkey and Russia. These three countries have built at least 12 observation posts in the region according to the previous agreement. While the tripartite summit did not produce a definite decision regarding the fate of Idlib. Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following the failure of the summit, has warned of the possibility of a military attack on Idlib. If that happens then more victims   will fall again on the civilians and a wave of refugees will occur. Turkey in talks in Tehran has proposed to find a solution to maintain peace in Idlib. To Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Vladimir Putin from Russia, Erdogan stressed the need to increase Turkey's role in Idlib. At the suggestion, Vlaimir Putin still argued for the need of  a crackdown. Moscow opposes the proposed ceasefire. The reason is, because there are still resistance factions that were not included in the peace talks. Putin is of the view that the Syrian Government must have strong support in order to be able regain control of all regions. From the failure of the Tripartite Summit in Tehran, it can be seen that the foreign side is very influential in resolving the bloody conflict in Syria. The different interests of foreign countries that now are implementing their influence, both on the government and the resistance or the opposition has blocked the effort to resolve the civil war in Syria. A country that was once peaceful and prosperous will still remain at a war. Not only because of differences in interests of parties in the country, but even more so, because of foreign interference. 

10
September

President Joko Widodo left for South Korea on Sunday, September 9, 2018. His visit to Seoul is the reciprocal one of South Korean President Moon Jae-In to Indonesia in 2017. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi remarked that the visit of President Joko Widodo aims to strengthen economic cooperation, especially in facing the current and future global economic situation. While in Seoul, President Joko Widodo is to hold a bilateral meeting with South Korean President, Moon Jae-In, and attend the Indonesia-South Korea Business Forum and one-on-one business meeting. In addition, the governments of the two countries will sign a number of memorandums of understanding in the fields of legislation, cooperation in immigration, economy, human resources, maritime security, and the environment and forestry. South Korea is one of the top 10 countries that invest in Indonesia, such as the investment of the Korean steel giant company, Posco which has established a partnership with PT Krakatau Steel to build a large steel smelter in Cilegon, Banten. Besides, the Korean retail store network, Lotte has also been operating in Indonesia for a long time. Trade between the two countries also increased significantly, reaching almost 12 percent. The potential is quite large. In 2017, the value of trade between Indonesia and Korea reached $16.3 billion dollars. In addition to strengthening cooperation in the economic sector, President Joko Widodo's visit to South Korea this time is also to commemorate the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and South Korea. In addition to bilateral relations, cooperation between Indonesia and South Korea has been also established in various international forums. One of them is the MIKTA forum -Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia, which has seven main areas of cooperation, namely fighting terrorism, trade and economy, energy, sustainable development, gender equality, peacekeeping operations, good governance and democracy. President Joko Widodo's visit to South Korea this time will also be used to provide support for the two Koreas’ peace and strengthen Indonesia's support for the peace process on the Korean Peninsula. So, it is hoped that the peace of two Koreas will be realized immediately. Hopefully, President Joko Widodo's visit to South Korea brings about positive impact and strengthens better relations between the two countries, especially in the economic, political, security and socio-cultural fields.

05
September

The leaders of China and Africa, met to discuss the future of cooperation between countries of the different continents. The meeting and discussion were held at the China Africa Cooperation Forum Summit, which took place since Monday. The aim of the summit was clearly reflected in the theme, “China and Africa: towards a stronger future community together through mutually beneficial cooperation”.Chinese President Xi Jinping in the opening ceremony presented a very persuasive speech with the title “Work Together for Common Development and a Shared Future”. Through his speech, President Xi Jinping stressed the principle of his country in cooperating with other countries including not intervening in other countries that are partners and not enforcing any political conditions. A similar theme was also announced when Africa and China started the summit in Beijing in 2006 and followed up with the second summit in 2015 at Yohanesburg, South Africa. China, as disclosed by President Xin Jinping, will carry out eight major actions to help African countries for the next 3 years. One of the eight actions is to encourage the expansion of African commodity imports and support the achievement of 2030 African food security targets. For African countries, cooperation with China is certainly very welcome. They may very well see that China is the main alternative to support their economic improvement and improvement. As one of the strongest countries in the world, the opportunity for cooperation with China gives hope of new hope for Africa as an alternative to Europe and the United States. For most African countries, increasing relations with China could have given new hope, because unlike Europe, China was not a country that had colonized the continent. For China itself, the increase and expansion of cooperation in the economic and trade sectors has become a significant factor in efforts to find a balance of multilateral cooperation. The trade war launched by the United States, which was intensified by Donald Trump's administration, has given an economic impact to the country with the most population in the Asian continent. In this perspective, the third China Africa Summit in Beijing is a new momentum especially for China in seeking a new balance in the economic field, nationally and globally.

03
September

President of Asian Olympic Council, Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah stated that Jakarta has the ability to be host of major international activities. This was expressed when delivering a speech at the closing of the 18th Asian Games on Sunday (2/9). Specifically, the recommendation was presented to the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach who was also present at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Asian Games. That statement certainly makes Indonesia even more proud after successfully hosting the second Asian Games. For more than two weeks, Indonesia has proven successful in 3 aspects at the 2018 Asian Games. The aspects are in terms of facility and infrastructure, achievements and hosting. The success of organizing the 2018 Asian Games becomes  capital for Indonesia to nominate itself as host of 2032 Olympics. The wish to be host has been stated by President Joko Widodo to the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach at Bogor Palace last Saturday. The 2018 Asian Games have left a lot of valuable things. 94 arenas of competition and training have been built and renovated to meet international standards. Jakarta International Veledrome, for example, is considered to be one of the best in the world. Another valuable relic is the positive behavior of Indonesian people. The enthusiasm of the Indonesian people to witness 465 match numbers has encouraged more than 11,000 athletes from 45 countries to compete and achieve the best. The enthusiasm and dedication were also shown by volunteers who have worked sincerely and wholeheartedly. Vice President Jusuf Kalla, in his remarks at the closing of the Asian Games, thanked for the volunteers with their hospitality made the athletes feel at home. The success of organizing the 2018 Asian Games can be a special note for Indonesia to host the 2032 Olympics. At least, that was revealed by the President of the International Olympiad Committee, Thomas Bach. He revealed the success of the 2018 Asian Games is a strong foundation. The thing that impressed him was the people of Indonesia. According to him, Indonesia has shown a great combination of friendliness and efficiency at the same time. He added that it was the Olympics. The Olympics is about humans, perfection and friendship. Another note that can become Indonesia's capital as the host of the 2032 Olympics is the ability to present spectacular opening and closing events. At the opening, Indonesia showed the richness and diversity of Indonesian culture, and at the closing ceremony, the nuances of Asian diversity were gracefully exhibited. The capital owned by Indonesia can be a special record for the Committee of International Olympic. Because Indonesia has succeeded in making Asian energy and enthusiasm inexhaustible. Indonesia has grown the real energy of Asia, and united to bring goodness to the world. Hopefully, Indonesia's wish to host the 2032 Olympics can be realized. So,  the world community feels Indonesia's beauty. As said by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, Indonesia, You're Great!

31
August

European Union -EU and Iranian relations after the United States left the joint Nuclear Agreement do not appear to be getting closer. Earlier after United States President Donald Trump decided not to continue the Nuclear Agreement with Iran, the European Union sought to be  unable to be consistent with the previous stance. One of the European Union member countries that started to stay away from Iran is France. In an internal order, the French government asked its foreign ministry diplomats and officials to postpone indefinitely all unimportant trips to Iran. The plan of a bomb attack on protests by Iranian opposition groups near Paris, and a change in Tehran's attitude, are the causes of a change in France's stance  towards Iran. France is one of the countries supporting Iran's nuclear agreement in 2015. With  other European countries, it  tried to help Iran ease the impact of US sanctions. Iran's economy, which has improved, is now hit by the imposition of US sanctions. After no longer receiving support from the European Union, Iran is also ready to issue a statement to be  no longer committed to the Nuclear Agreement. Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed Iran is ready to abandon the agreement. Even, Iran does not hesitate to end  the agreement it if is no longer in line with the country’s  interests. According to Khamenei, Iran should not depend on Europe despite promises from Europe. In addition to outside pressure, President Mohamad Khatami is also facing a crisis, because Iranian Parliament has sacked the Minister of Labor and Finance. There are still two ministers who will face the same fate. The world witnessed a way out when the United States and Europe signed a Nuclear Joint Agreement with Iran. But now, the hope of solving this problem is getting further away. If left unchecked, problems in the Middle East region will be increasingly complicated. Of course, this is not expected to occur.