Trade Ministry operations'unaffected’ by criminal probe
Criminal investigations into several top Trade Ministry officials will not affect operations, a senior official has insisted.
Didi Sumedi, the ministry’s director for industrial and mining product exports, said all procedures were running as normal despite probes into the top brass of the ministry’s foreign trade directorate general.
“Export and import licenses issuance processes are back to normal as the [foreign trade director general’s] authority has been taken over by an acting official. Indeed, the official signed an export license for Freeport on Wednesday,” Didi told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Thursday.
Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel recently suspended the director general, Partogi Pangaribuan, over an alleged graft case implicating Partogi and other officials. Rachmat then appointed the ministry’s inspector general, Karyanto Suprih, as acting director general for foreign trade.
The Jakarta Police is investigating a graft case suspected to be behind long dwelling times at Tanjung Priok Port in North Jakarta. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo recently expressed public fury at the long dwelling times, which he claimed had caused total losses of Rp 780 trillion (US$57.8 billion).
The investigators named three suspects, including an official at the ministry’s foreign trade directorate general on Wednesday, before naming Partogi a suspect on Thursday.
Importers Association of Indonesia (GINSI) general secretary Ridwan Tento said his members had experienced no permit problems since the case began.
“[Permit grants] are running fine because the ministry has appointed an acting officer,” he said.
However, he said that businesses were facing uncertainty in dealing with license procurements as no service level agreement among ministries and institutions involved in import and export permit issuance existed.
“As many as 18 government offices involved in the process, depending on the commodity, and each office sets different procedures,” he said.
Toto Dirgantoro of the Indonesian Exporters’ Association (GPEI) echoed Ridwan’s concern, saying that time and cost transparency had become obstacles for his association’s members in procuring export permits.
“However, the license procurement process does not affect our dwelling times as we do not bring in goods without the permits,” he told the Post.
Separately, Didi said that dwellings times had been long for some time and that the ministry had acted to try and cut them.
“Since the instruction to reduce dwelling time length was given last month, the ministry has carried out all actions needed, such as revoking the NPIK [special importer identification number] obligation, assigning ministry officials to ports and amending general requirements in import,” he said.
The Trade Ministry on July 3 issued a regulation to amend the general requirements, obliging importers to obtain import licenses and have proper knowledge and understanding of import regulations prior to bringing in commodities. Any commodities that are brought in without proper documentation will be exported back at the cost of the importer and its importer’s identification number (API) may be frozen. The regulation is set to take effect on Jan. 1 next year. (prm)
The Jakarta Post
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