22 April 2011

Indonesia, Immigration, and a New Law...

It has been a while since I have bothered to write on any Indonesian laws. I continue to read them regularly, perhaps daily might be a more accurate description. I read for two reasons: to keep up-to-date and to keep my language skills up to speed. However, I figured I might jot down a few points about the new immigration law. I thought that I would do this for no other reason than having a vested interest in the subject matter. But, then again, it is 15 Chapters and 145 Articles long, I can think of a whole lot of other things that I might enjoy more now that I am writing for fun rather than income.

To say that the new Immigration Law was a long time in the making, or a long time in coming, is an understatement in the extreme. The previous immigration law was passed and enacted way back in 1992. Nevertheless, the House of Representatives (DPR) finally got their collective heads around the idea of needing to pass new legislation in this area. So, on 7 April 2011, the DPR passed the Immigration Bill into Law and the rest is history, sort of.

The new law goes some ways towards resolving a number of outstanding issues that directly impact upon foreigners living or wanting to live in Indonesia. However, there are other really critical and substantive issues that will determine whether foreigners opt to live in Indonesia that remain unaddressed, and as such unresolved. A prime example of this is property ownership in Indonesia by foreigners. This is apparently going to be addressed in separate legislation, presumably a revised agrarian law, at some later date. The "some later date" is problematic as it still creates present problems for foreigners and their Indonesian families that might not wait until some later date.

The idea that the new immigration law is solely to satisfy concerned foreigners and their agitating Indonesian spouses who lobbied for some of these changes is a furphy. The reality is that after 19 years with the same legislation while other laws and regulations were enacted and implemented around it meant that the old immigration law was no longer fit for the purpose it was originally enacted for. Furthermore, there was little point in going about the process in an ad hoc or piecemeal manner making the odd amendment here are there. Common sense dictated that the best, perhaps preferred, approach was to draft and enact a whole new law.

Yet, it must be noted that there are plenty of provisions in the new law which are pro-foreigner, particularly pro-mixed marriage families. However, once again, this is not the sole reason for the new law.

In any event, it must also be noted that the enactment of the law constitutes less than half the process. The proof of the pudding, so to speak, is in the implementing regulations. Quite clearly, the new law will require new implementing regulations in order for the new law to work and to be enforceable. If these provisions are not forthcoming, then the law will be difficult to apply and the 'guarantees' that many think the new law provides will fall by the wayside.

In fact, the statement that all current implementing regulations remain in force while they do not conflict with the new law and until such time as they are repealed and replaced does not provide any increased or enhanced certainty for those individuals that are likely to come under the full force of the law.

For example, a dilemma that presents itself is how much should foreigners be paid. The dilemma is whether foreigners as defined under the new immigration law are the equivalent of expatriates, particularly if they are being sponsored by their Indonesian spouse. The salary ranges for expatriates are set out in explicit terms in Director General of Taxation Decision No. KEP-173/PJ/2002 which requires expatriates (nationalities are listed in the decision) to be paid specific amounts in USD for certain jobs. An example, an Australia Manager in the trade business is to be paid USD 10,756 per month. Funnily enough it sets out that I should have been being paid USD 8,900 per month, but that was certainly not happening!

The guessing game here is one of whether a foreigner recruited locally in Indonesia as opposed to a foreigner recruited in their home country and brought to Indonesia are classified differently in the expatriate sense. Unfortunately, Article 61 and the elucidation is silent on the salary / wage front. However, it would certainly seem to make for an interesting discussion at the immigration office if an Indonesian spouse of limited means was seeking to sponsor a foreign spouse into Indonesia, particularly if they were looking at a small start-up business operation that might not even turn over USD 10,000 per month.

Maybe, this immigration law deal needs to be a series of posts?


lawbugger said...

I would really appreciate a few more posts on this one. You left me for dead in your last 2 paragraphs. IM sure there are many other issues (besides salaries) which need to be brought foward and resolved.


lawbugger said...

on re-reading

this bit:

In fact, the statement that all current implementing regulations remain in force while they do not conflict with the new law and until such time as they are repealed and replaced

can you enlarge pls

clearly now that the law has passed? there are many conflicting regulations now, which are no longer valid?


Jakartass said...

"Maybe, this immigration law deal needs to be a series of posts?"

Yep, sure does, Rob.

dea said...

thanks for sharing..

Virginia said...

It can't work as a matter of fact, that's what I suppose.