Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Saturday asked Papua to use local wisdom to accelerate development and achieve the true potential of the resource-rich province.Addressing high-ranking Papuan officials during a work meeting here to evaluate development programs in the province, Kalla said governors, regents and mayors in Papua needed to be more creative in crafting policies and carrying out development programs to achieve significant advances in all sectors.
“When constructing a building in a remote area, for instance, a regional administration should call on local wisdom and use wood which is affordable and easy to get, instead of st! ones and cement which could cost some Rp 1 million per pack because of the costly transportation fees,” he said.
The Vice President said this fiscal year, Papua province would receive Rp 21 trillion (US$2.2 billion) in development funds and West Papua Rp 7 trillion. He said these were significant amounts, especially considering the total population was only about 2.8 million.
“If these huge amounts of funds were distributed equally to the population, everyone would receive Rp 11 million. The funds will have significance for the people if the development programs change their lives. Therefore, the government must be efficient and the funds should not wholly be absorbed for bureaucracy expenditures,” he said.
Under the 2001 special autonomy law for Papua, the province received about Rp 3 trillion in 2002, Rp 5 trillion in 2005 and Rp 6 trillion in 2006 from the government as its share of revenue from the exploitation of natural resources in the province. This includes the copper and gold mined by PT Freeport McMoran Indonesia in Timika.
Jakarta has been criticized for its handling of Papua, with the latest outcry coming after the government introduced a bill that would split Papua into four new provinces and allow the central government to send more security personnel into the country’s easternmost province.
Most Papuans oppose the bill, and have called on Jakarta to settle unresolved human rights abuses in the region and fight corruption in the provincial bureaucracy.
Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu said in a report at Saturday’s meeting that 80 percent of Papuans were officially defined as living in absolute poverty.
According to unofficial data from local NGOs and churches, some 60 percent of Papuans are illiterate. Papua has also seen the fastest spread of HIV/AIDS in the country.
“They are poor and cannot survive despite their natural wealth. This condition has been worsened by the corrupt governance and poor infrastructure and the low quality of human resources,” Suebu said.
The three-day work meeting will last until Monday. It is being held so officials can discuss the problems facing Papua and how to improve the welfare of Papuans.
The meeting is also expected to seek a legal solution and basis for the controversial formation of West Papua province following the annulment by the Constitutional Court of Law No. 45/1999 on the province’s formation. (Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura)
Source: The Jakarta Post
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