Governement to Send Civil Servants to Bali to Work From There
The Indonesian government is working on a plan to send thousands of Jakarta-based civil servants to work remotely from Bali, in a bid to help the economy of the tourism-reliant island rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Up to 8,000 employees at seven ministries will likely be eligible for the program, which is being overseen by the office of the coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment. They include workers at the energy ministry, the public works ministry and the transportation ministry.
“This is part of the government’s efforts to create demand so that hotels and restaurants in Bali can survive,” Odo Manuhutu, deputy for tourism and creative economy at the minister’s office, told reporters at the weekend. “In line with the health ministry’s guidelines, Bali’s vaccination rate is currently the highest and fastest [among Indonesia’s provinces]… to make sure that Bali is safe to visit.”
Manuhutu said the government is aiming to inoculate 2.8 million Bali residents aged 18 or older — or over 60% of the island’s population — by July. Officials had earlier said they wanted to launch some kind of a “work from Bali” program that month.
With 80% of its economy dependent on tourism and related sectors, Bali reported the deepest contractions among Indonesia’s 34 provinces in 2020 and in the first quarter of this year — at 9.3% and 9.85%, respectively. Indonesia’s economy, meanwhile, shrank 2.07% and 0.74% in the two periods.
Manuhutu said many Bali hotels have been reporting just around 8%-10% occupancy rates along the pandemic, forcing them to furlough their workers. Assigning some civil servants to work from Bali is expected to encourage workers from the private sector to follow suit, thus helping Bali fill its 140,000 or so hotel rooms.
“We’re hoping that our presence in Bali will create multiplier effects,” Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno said on Monday. “We’re hoping [it] will trigger a herd mentality, followed by other sectors — the private sector, academic institutions and communities.”
Most employees at government offices in Jakarta — except essential workers — are still working on a 50:50 basis, under which they regularly switch between working at the office and at home.
Vinsensius Jemadu, director for tourism marketing at the tourism and creative economy ministry, said among the plans is to get half of those having their work-from-home shift to do it from Bali — including administrative work and virtual meetings.
“We can set a quota for each ministry or state institution. The civil servants will be able to work from Bali in turns until the end of the year,” he said.
Jemadu added the government is still calculating the budget for the program, saying it will be “huge.” Accommodation alone is estimated to cost at least 3 million rupiah ($209) per month for each employee. They will be concentrated in the Nusa Dua resort area, which employs more that 7,500 workers directly and 10,000 more indirectly — around 40% have received their vaccine shots.
“We’ve done various efforts before to support the tourism industry through grants, loan stimulus, etc. — but they’re still unable to boost demands,” Jemadu said.
Bali welcomed just around 350 foreign arrivals between January and April, down from 1.2 million in the same period of last year, according to data from state airport operator Angkasa Pura. Domestic arrivals, meanwhile, dropped to 417,000 from 993,000.
Uno said Indonesia has been discussing potential travel corridor arrangements with several countries — including Singapore, Vietnam, the U.K. and Russia.
He had earlier said that under the schemes, some locations in Bali and Riau Islands Province, which directly neighbours Singapore, will be designated as “green zones” — or COVID-free areas.
The minister added that the government is preparing policies and telecommunications infrastructure to help Bali catch up with the rising trend of digital nomads — a loose group of remote workers and freelancers who travel the globe and earn a living anywhere as long as there is fast and reliable internet connection. This includes a plan for long-term visa arrangements. (asia.nikkei.com 30/05/2021)
Bali Expat Found Lifeless
A 42-year-old woman named Mary Castro. from the United States has been found lifeless in a villa on Friday (28/5).
The Head of the Kuta Police Department, Kompol I Nyoman Gatra confirmed that the expat woman was found dead in a villa that is located on Jalan Camplung Tanduk Gang Bunga Kecil, Seminyak. “That woman was found lifeless on Friday morning by one of her friends named Paul when he attempted to wake her up.” Kompol Gatra said on Saturday (29/5).
According to information from a witness named Putu Suciawan, Mary and Putu went to the bar and drank liquor together earlier on Friday (28/5) around 2:00am. Putu explained that Mary was allegedly intoxicated after consuming a large amount of alcohol that night. Once they were finished drinking, Putu took Mary to her villa that is located in Seminyak.
After a few hours, one of Mary’s friends named Paul became suspicious when Mary didn’t respond as he tried to wake her up around 10:30am. “When her friend named Paul noticed something wrong when he tried to wake her up, he asked the villa’s staff to call the doctor to come to the villa. And by the time the doctor arrived, they confirmed that Mary had already passed away.” Kompol Gatra added.
According to the police investigation, Kompol Gatra assumed that the woman died due to health issues that she had prior to her death. “We found several different types of medicines inside her room, so we assumed that she died from a physical illness that she suffered as we found no injury from physical assault on her body.” Kompol Gatra concluded. (thebalisun.com 31/05/2021)
Tourism Minister Says Encouraging People to Work From Bali has Already Helped Boost Local Economy
Indonesia’s Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno claims that the number of tourists visiting Bali have increased by about threefold since he began encouraging people to work from the island in January, as officials explore the possibility of formalizing the initiative to boost local tourism.
“We began in January, and we see this is increasing our effectiveness in reviving tourism in Bali. From around 2,000 to 2,500 visitors per day [it has increased] to about 7,000 to 7,500 visitors, so about a threefold increase,” Sandiaga said.
The government has recently been working on its Work From Bali initiative, the latest plan of which might involve requiring a quarter of civil servants from seven ministries to participate, starting from the third quarter of this year.
The program has been met with criticism from various experts, some of whom pointed out the inefficiency aspect of allocating the state budget into this scheme. In response to those concerns, officials stressed that the initiative requires no extra budget.
“This is what’s interesting, if we can be efficient without adding budget but simply reallocating existing budget. This is a form of adaptation amid the pandemic, a government policy that’s right on its target, benefits, and is timely,” Sandiaga said.
The minister also said that at least 3,000 hotel rooms and accommodation in Bali were booked for the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Kadin) planned national conference, though some reports suggest that the event is now set to move to a different city. (coconuts.co 21/05/2021)
Russian National Arrested For Attempting to Smuggle Drugs Into Bali
A 32-year-old man with initials (AG) from Russia has been arrested by Bali authorities after attempting to smuggle illegal drugs into Bali.
Authorities from the National Narcotics Agency (BNNP), Custom Officers and Officials from Bali Ngurah Rai Airport have managed to intercept a shipment of DMT (dimethyltryptamine). The Head of Bali BNNP, Brigjen Pol Gede Sugianyar Dwi Putra has confirmed that the suspect has been arrested at his home in Jimbaran.
“On Wednesday (19/5) around 10:50am the suspect was arrested along with a package of DMT weighing 194 gram from his place that is located in South Kuta. ” Brigjen Pol Sugianyar said during a press conference on Friday (28/5). Sugianyar also explained some of the dangers of consuming DMT. No official statements have been made yet whether the drugs were intended for private use or for trafficking in the Bali area. However, AG could possibly face 12 years imprisonment for attempting to smuggle illegal drugs into Bali.
Prior to the arrest, an authority at the Bali Ngurah Rai Airport became suspicious when they scanned a package that was allegedly ordered by AG and was delivered by a man from Ukraine. After examining the package with an X-Ray, they sent it off to the Bali Police Department for a forensic investigation. That is when they confirmed that the package contained the class 1 narcotic, DMT.(coconuts.co 28/05/2021)
12 Dolphins Rescued, 1 Died After Getting Stranded on Bali Beach
Twelve dolphins that were stranded on Batu Tumpeng Beach in Bali’s Klungkung regency yesterday have been released back into the ocean while one has died, authorities said, following evacuation efforts which went late into the night.
According to Putu Widiada, an official from the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) in Klungkung, the dolphins were first sighted yesterday afternoon. Authorities said they might have gotten stranded because of tidal waves, adding that some were found on the sand while others were stranded among the rocks near the shore.
“By midnight, all the dolphins were released [to the ocean],” Widiada said today.
However, one of the stranded dolphins was found dead on Friday morning with severe injuries, and was then evacuated for a necropsy to determine the cause of death.
The rescue mission reportedly involved not only authorities, but also local organizations including Westerlaken Foundation and the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN). A video taken last night showed glimpses of the evacuation effort as it was underway. (coconuts.co 21/05/2021)
Bali Governor Expects to Finish Covid-19 Vaccinations by June
Bali Governor, I Wayan Koster has predicted finishing the Covid-19 vaccine distribution to 70% of Bali residents by June 2021.
Koster claimed that Bali has become a province that will receive the biggest amount of Covid-19 vaccines in Indonesia as the central government has already provided 2.6 million doses of the vaccine to Bali. “We’ve already distributed Covid-19 vaccines to around 1.3 million of residents in Bali, which means that we’ve achieved 45% of our target to vaccinate 3 million people in the island.” Koster said.
As he previously stated, Bali provincial government aims to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine to at least 70% of their residents to achieve herd immunity before the international travel corridor reopens in July 2021. “This vaccination program is one of our efforts to revive the tourism sector in the island from the crisis. Right now we’re focusing on distributing the vaccine through officials from each village across Bali.” Koster added.
Meanwhile, the Spokesman of the Denpasar Covid-19 Handling Task Force, I Dewa Gede Rai said that despite the vaccination program in the Denpasar area, he warned people to keep complying with prevention protocols. The city government has received 19 new cases of Covid-19 with 30 recoveries and zero deaths as of Monday (24/5). “Despite the decreased number of Covid-19 cases post vaccination in Denpasar, people still need to be aware to prevent the cases from surging.” Gede Rai concluded.(thebalisun.com 26/05/2021)
3 Farmers Arrested for Skimming ATM Machines in Bali
Three men from Dompu, West Nusa Tenggara have been arrested and could possibly face 2.5 years imprisonment for skimming several different ATM’s in Bali.
The Prosecutor from District Attorney, Made Dipa Umbara confirmed that the men who’ve been identified as Junaidin (aged 36), Alamsyah (aged 29) and Miska (26) were arrested and have attended their first virtual trial on Wednesday (26/5). “The men who previously worked as farmers in their hometown were proven guilty for skimming several ATM machines from different banks around Bali.” Umbara said on Wednesday (26/5).
During the interrogation, the suspects admitted that they were told to execute these illegal activities by a man who has yet to be identified by police. “The mystery man gave them dozens of cards that were filled with the data from the banks, and then used them to withdraw cash from ATMs.” Umbara added. They also admitted that they were paid USD 345 (IDR 5 million) per person for each completed job. During the trial, the Prosecutor demanded the Judges to sentence the suspects with 2.5 years of imprisonment on top of a USD 3,450 (IDR 50 million) fine for each suspect. After hearing the demand from the Prosecutor, one of the suspects named Junaedi asked the Judges that was led by I Putu Sayoga for leniency towards their sentencing.
Prior to the arrest, the suspects arrived in Denpasar on January 22nd 2021 after taking a bus ride from their hometown in Dompu. During their operation, the suspects have been staying at Oyo Hotel 2688 Guntur that is located on Jalan Gatsu Timur Number 22, Denpasar. As a result of their illegal activities, the banks claimed that they have lost around USD 3,900 (IDR 56,5 million) from the incident. “This is very unusual, as most of the suspects who were arrested from similar cases were from Eastern Europe. An investigation to find the man behind these people is still underway.” Sayoga concluded.