National overseas labor agency blamed for migrant workers’ mishap

Novia D.Rulistia ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta   |  Mon, 03/24/2008 1:10 AM  |  Headlines

Confusion over the role of the National Agency for the Placement and Protection of Overseas Labor (BNP2TKI) has kept up to 7,000 citizens from working abroad, a minister says.

Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Soeparno said in an interview last week the BNP2TKI had meddled with his ministry’s authority in conducting the required medical check-up for migrant workers.

Speaking to The Jakarta Post, he said it was the authority of his ministry to choose the hospitals for the medical testing as recommended by the Health Ministry under a signed agreement.

“But what has happened is that the BNP2TKI made its own regulation and uses health institutions which are not recommended by us.

“They use GAMCA and HIPTEK instead; who are they?” Erman said, referring to the Gulf Country Committee Approved Medical Centres’ Association (GAMCA) and the Association of Medical Clinics for Indonesian Overseas Migrant Workers (HIPTEK).

He added that for this activity, the BNP2TKI used Sisko TKLN, whose duty is to make cards for migrant workers, and that workers who could not pay could not leave for their destination countries.

“This has caused accumulation which has led to the cancellation of up to 7,000 migrant workers going overseas.”

Some private migrant workers placement providers — including the Association of Labor Companies for Indonesian Migrant Workers (APJATI) and the Alliance of Migrant Workers Placement Entrepreneurs (Himsataki) — reported to the Corruption Eradication Commission and the police alleged levies by the BNP2TKI, GAMCA and HIPTEK through Sisko TKLN.

The migrant workers associations said they needed to pay about Rp 250,000 per worker to Sisko TKLN.

GAMCA and HIPTEK denied the allegation.

Nevertheless, Erman said the BNP2TKI had acted beyond its authority.

He said that according to 2004 law on the placement and protection of migrant workers, BNP2TKI is the actor of the regulations, not the regulator.

The agency’s duty, he said, was to arrange the placement of migrant workers based on government-to-government and government-to-business mechanisms.

Indonesia now has two government-to-government agreements on migrant workers, with South Korea and Japan.

Therefore, Erman said, BNP2TKI had no authority not only to make its own regulation on medical testing, but also to evaluate and ban private companies in the placement of migrant workers.

Since 2004, Indonesia has sent 2.1 million workers overseas, 80 percent of whom are low-skilled such as housemaids or construction workers. They contribute to the economy through their remittances, which in 2006 amounted to some US$3.4 billion in foreign exchange.
Copyright © 2008 The Jakarta Post – PT Bina Media Tenggara. All Rights Reserved.

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