Lobbying services budget should be more transparent: Hikmahanto

Lobbying services budget should be more transparent: Hikmahanto

Hikmahanto Juwana. (ui.ac.id)

It is impossible that diplomats should wait for members of Congress in order to convey the argument."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The lobbying services budget to be included in the 2016 State Budget (APBN) should be more clear and transparent, stated Hikmahanto Juwana, a professor of international law at the University of Indonesia (UI).

"Indonesia can use the services of lobbyists in the United States, and it can be included in the 2016 APBN, but the budget should be used transparently and clearly," Hikmahanto noted here on Thursday.

If there is a bill in the Unites States that could affect Indonesias export commodities, then the country could use the services of lobbyists.

"The effort is intended to ensure that the members of Congress do not approve the bill. In addition, the effort aims to protect job opportunities in Indonesia," Hikmahanto explained.

The professor noted that the lobbyists could carry out jobs that cannot be done by diplomats.

"It is impossible that diplomats should wait for members of Congress in order to convey the argument," he pointed out.

Hikmahanto ensured that the lobbyists were not tasked to arrange a meeting between the heads of government and state.

"The official meeting should be arranged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representatives of the country abroad," he stated.

Earlier, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut B. Panjaitan had urged the House of Representatives to include the lobbying budget in the 2016 APBN.

On Saturday (November 7), Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi had denied a report that her ministry had used the services of a foreign lobbyist for President Joko Widodos (Jokowis) recent visit to the United States.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not use the (services of the) lobbyist and did not pay any lobbyist for Jokowis visit to the United States," Minister Retno stated at a press conference in Jakarta on Saturday.

She made the statement to deny a report that President Jokowis visit to the United States was facilitated by foreign lobbyists.

Retno clarified that the visit was arranged formally through related officials who held various meetings with officials of the United States and the Indonesian government.

"I chaired the meetings myself thrice on September 17, October 7, and October 17, 2015, for preparing for the visit," Retno noted.

Therefore, she affirmed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regrets the publication of an article titled "Waiting in the White House lobby."

The minister alleged that the issues raised therein "are grossly inaccurate, baseless, and some are bordering on fiction."

President Jokowis visit to the United States was on the invitation of President Obama, extended during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC 2014 Leaders Meeting in Beijing on November 10, 2014. This invite was then followed up by a written invitation through diplomatic channels.

President Jokowis schedule and the fact that he had to attend to several urgent and important issues allowed him to accept the invitation only on October 25-27, 2015.

The Indonesian government did not employ the services of any lobbyists for the preparation of the presidents visit to the United States.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also never utilized the ministrys budget to employ a lobbyist, although it fully comprehends that lobbyists are a real part of the political life in the United States and are frequently employed by stakeholders and other governments across the world to promote their interests in the United States.
(Uu.A063/INE/KR-BSR/F001)

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