​Jokowi orders KITAS and Indonesian language requirements for foreign workers to be scrapped

President Joko Widodo speaking at the World Economic Forum. Photo: AFP

Many foreign workers have felt increasingly unwelcome by President Joko Widodo’s administration as new regulations are put into place that make it harder for companies to hire them. Economic analysts have also said these new regulations send a mixed message when Jokowi’s administration has been adamant about trying to attract new foreign direct investment to boost the flagging economy.

It looks like Jokowi is now trying to make his message clearer by asking his ministers to get rid of some of the requirements that make it difficult for foreigners to work (and invest) in Indonesia.

A government press release posted to the official website of the Indonesian Cabinet Secretary, titled “President Jokowi Requests the Removal of Institutions that Have Become Burdens on the State,” says that Jokowi has decided that there are too many rules complicating foreign investment, which goes against his goal of making his government friendly to investors. 

“So he asked that all regulations that inhibit (investment) be removed,” said Cabinet Secretary Pramono Agung, as quoted in the release.

Specifically, the press release says the president “ordered the the requirements for foreigners working in Indonesia to master Indonesian and to hold a Temporary Stay Permit Card (KITAS) be scrapped.”

The release does not go into further detail regarding what those changes might mean. The foreign language requirement for foreign workers, which is technically on the books under Manpower Ministry Regulation No. 12 of 2013, has never been enforced and talk of implementing language testing were eventually dropped. 

The part regarding the KITAS requirement is potentially quite significant, however. As the primary document required to legally work in Indonesia, having a KITAS is essential for expats and increasingly difficult for sponsoring companies to acquire. If the KITAS requirement were to be scrapped, it would likely be replaced by a similar type of work visa, or perhaps a variety of visas tailored to more specific business purposes, hopefully with less stringent requirements.

We’ll wait for more information before speculating further, but this seems like a good step on Jokowi’s part to show that he is truly serious about attracting foreign investment and talent. 

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