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Jakarta wants firms to hire locals before expats

Indonesia is looking at finding more ways to ensure that qualified locals land jobs that would otherwise go to foreigners, Manpower Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said.

Last year, it listed 19 human resources-related positions that foreign professionals were barred from taking up.

Muhaimin told The Straits Times that the aim is to get employers to consider an Indonesian candidate before a foreign one, especially for professional and managerial posts. The details are being worked out, he added.

The move comes amid concerns that locals are being passed over for foreigners and at a time when neighbouring countries are also reviewing regulations on the hiring of expatriates.

Last month, Singapore announced several measures aimed at giving its citizens a fair shot at landing professional, managerial and executive (PME) posts.

“We will do something similar,” Muhaimin said on Tuesday.

Overall, Indonesia still welcomes foreign professionals who can offer valuable know-how and contribute to the local economy, but it has also been introducing measures gradually to help locals land PME positions.

The ruling on HR-related positions last year has had some effect, but the number of foreigners issued work passes remains high because the curbs are “being offset by the rise in foreign investments”, according to Muhaimin.

The Manpower Ministry said late last month that Indonesia would remain open to expatriate workers but stressed that their recruitment must bring about a transfer of knowledge.

“Their presence must be viewed positively because they will help Indonesian workers directly absorb skills and abilities,” the ministry added.

Some 48,000 work permits were issued in the first eight months of this year. In total, 72,427 were issued last year and 77,307 in 2011, according to Manpower Ministry data.

By Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja (The Straits Times)