House of Representatives rushes new bill . . .
The Indonesian government passed its controversial omnibus bill on job creation into law today despite initially scheduling a vote for October 8. A major feature of President Joko Widodo’s – popularly known as Jokowi – developmental agenda for the country, the law aims to attract foreign investment by improving bureaucratic efficiency. Jokowi introduced “omnibus” bills at the beginning of his second term in office to speed up the process of regulatory reform by packaging cross-sectoral legal changes into one bill. The bill revises 76 laws governing labour, investment, business licensing, and environmental matters. The government has framed this bill as another much needed ‘stimulus’ package to boost the contracting economy through the pandemic.
Five million workers plan country-wide strike . . .
Since its introduction in the House of Representatives in February, the omnibus bill has faced strong public opposition. Civil society advocates argue the new law severely erodes domestic workers’ rights by slashing minimum wage and severance payment requirements while easing measures allowing for more temporary and part-time contracts and the entry of unskilled migrant labourers. Trade unions also decried the government’s lack of transparency and consultation with the public and small businesses, focusing on advice from larger enterprises. Labour union organizers called for mass protests following the bill’s passing, with at least five million workers planning a country-wide strike from Tuesday to Thursday this week.
The negative impact of unilateral reform . . .
International observers have also voiced concerns over the law, mainly around the concentration of power in the president’s hands, giving the central government the right to unilaterally amend the new law and cancel regional regulations as it sees fit. It also weakens environmental assessments and includes a contentious ‘one-map’ policy seeking to standardize conflicting map versions held by different levels of government in an attempt to secure property rights for businesses, which Indigenous advocates already say has erased their land claims and displaced entire communities. While some Indonesians will immediately feel the new omnibus law's impact, it is unlikely that its economic benefits will become apparent in the near future.