24 Oct 2019

New Indonesian Govt agency to co-ordinate overseas aid

10:21 am on 24 October 2019

Indonesia's government has launched a new overseas aid agency to strengthen ties in the Pacific and other regions.

Tantowi Yahya Inonesia's Ambassador to New Zealand.

Tantowi Yahya Inonesia's Ambassador to New Zealand. Photo: RNZI/ Koroi Hawkins

Plans for the Indonesian Agency for International Development (AID) have been in the making for several years and reflect the country's growing economy and international influence.

The AID would integrate ongoing contributions to overseas development from various Indonesian ministries and agencies, according to the country's ambassador to Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand.

Tantowi Yahya said the agency would make management of Indonesia's overall overseas development aid of around $US212 million more simple and accountable.

Indonesia receives hundreds of millions of dollars in development assistance each year from nations including Japan, Australia, China and the US.

But the ambassador said there was nothing unusual about being an aid donor and recipient.

"A country like Indonesia and also other countries have an amount of money to spend for the contribution (to other countries)," he said.

"Just like yourself, just like myself, we borrow money, but at the same time, we also give money, lend money to the needy. It's just normal practice, nothing new about it."

In the Pacific, Indonesia's government has already given development or aid assistance to Fiji, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

Mr Yahya dismissed the suggestion that aid to the Pacific was aimed at quelling regional support for West Papuan independence.

"It's the kind of notion that limits us from being contributive in this part of the world," Mr Yahya said, adding that Indonesia had long been a part of the region.

"I think it's also very normal if we are concerned about what happens in this part of the world and especially when [Pacific Island countries] need assistance from countries like Indonesia.

"So, I think it's very unfair if everything good that we do in this part of the world is always related to Papua... it has nothing to do with politics."

He said to date, Indonesia's aid to Pacific countries had mainly been in the form of technical assistance, machinery and training.

The ambassador emphasised the Widodo government's aim to increasingly connect Indonesia's eastern region with Pacific Islands countries including in tourism.

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