Billions pour into W. Papua
Nethy Dharma Somba , The Jakarta Post , Manokwari | Fri, 01/23/2009 9:27 AM | The Archipelago
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited West Papua on Thursday, pouring hundreds of billion of rupiah in projects around the province.
In his two-day visit, Yudhoyono inaugurated 10 projects, including the development of roads, bridges, river rehabilitation projects and the construction of a Raja Ampat beach wall worth a total of Rp 231 billion (US$19.9 million) in Sorong and Manokwari, the capital city of the province.
Yudhoyono also provided Rp 510 billion for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the province after an earthquake hit the province on Jan. 4 this year.
The President donated Rp 4.47 billion of his own money to the people in Manokwari and Raja Ampat regency and handed over soft loans from Bank Mandiri of Rp 11.22 billion, from Bank BRI of Rp 16.09 billion and Bank BNI of Rp 8.42 billion.
Yudhoyono also handed over funds of Rp 154.7 billion for the National Self Reliance Community Empowerment (PNPM) program for people in 8 regencies and municipalities.
“The loans are for boats which will belong to the government.
The government can then lend the boats to the people for fishing. When the people can afford to buy new boats, they should return them and let other people use the old boats,” he said.
With the PNPM fund, Yudhoyono said, people are given a fishing rod.
“The fund is given in the districts. It’s up to the people to determine how to use the fund, but it should improve their welfare,” he said.
PNPM is often criticized for being manipulated by Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party as a campaign strategy to earn people’s vote. Yudhoyono is likely to run again in the presidential election in October.
However, he said that everything that had been given by the government was aimed only to increase people’s welfare, and that people in West Papua could run the programs themselves.
He said the government had given a special autonomy status to the West Papua province through the Law No. 21/2001 and the Presidential Instruction No. 5/2007.
The government has recently disbursed Rp 1.1 trillion in autonomy funds in the 2009 budget for West Papua. That funding is 30 percent of the total autonomy fund of Rp 3.7 trillion as the remaining Rp 2.6 trillion is allocated for Papua province.
The allocation of the Rp 1.1 trillion autonomy fund for West Papua was commensurate with its eight regencies/municipalities compared to the 27 regencies/municipalities in Papua.
Besides inaugurating the projects, Yudhoyono also donated 3000 packages of food staples for Manokwari residents while First Lady Ani Yudhoyono handed over a car and a motorcycle for a school.
Accompanied by Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie, Home Minister Mardiyanto, State Secretary Hatta Rajasa, Public Works Minister Joko Kirmanto, Social Services Minister Bachtiar Chamsyah and the Indonesian Military Chief Gen. Djoko Santoso, Yudhoyono handed over all the donations to West Papua Governor Abraham O Atururi on Masinam Island, which is 10 minutes by boat from Manokwari.
The President also visited an old well which was once used by an early Christian mission in Papua in 1855 and La Haroi, an old church.
Many residents were disappointed with the tight security during the President’s visit. “It seemed that the President no longer belongs to the people. We could no longer shake hands with him,” a resident said.