Friday, February 16, 2007

Indonesia to speed-up New Guinea development

Indonesia needs to speed up development in the country's two provinces on the west half of New Guinea island, Papua and West Papua, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters after a cabinet meeting on the issue. "The improvement of peoples' prosperity in [the] two Papua provinces is slow. Special autonomy has not been implemented in a good way," he said. "I will issue a presidential decree to accelerate the development in the two Papuan provinces. Funds will come from the region and the central government," he said, as reported by Reuters.

Yudhoyono said transport infrastructure would be priority to boost the local economy. "We hope in three to five years we will see significant results of this acceleration programmes," he said.

The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo AS also told media that developing basic transportation infrastructure will be prioritised. "It is important to improve access and mobility to remote areas, and those near the border, so that people in these areas can be reached more easily," he said as quoted by Urip Hudiono of The Jakarta Post. Widodo further mentioned the need to develop suitable plantations and crops in the two provinces to promote self-sufficiency. "We are considering developing oil palm plantations, among other things," he said. "This will also help create employment in these areas."

West Papua Governor Abraham Atururi acknowledged the development challenges in the two provinces and said future strategies should also focus on developing the local human resources. "Papua is said to be a land of riches; the problem is in its human resources," he said. "We hope this can be changed for the betterment of all."

Provincial officials from Papua and West Papua will meet soon in Manokwari, he said, to discuss cooperation in implementing future development policies.

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