House passes Papua special autonomy bill at plenary session

House passes Papua special autonomy bill at plenary session

House Speaker Puan Maharani (15/7/2021). (ANTARA/Youtube DPR RI)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Several months of deliberation ultimately resulted in the House of Representatives (DPR) passing a bill to amend Papua Special Autonomy Law No. 21 of 2001 at its plenary session on Thursday.

"It is a long-awaited bill for our brothers and sisters in Papua," House speaker, Puan Maharani, noted in a press statement that ANTARA received prior to the convening of the plenary session.

The House's plenary session began at 10:30 a.m. local time under stringent application of health protocols during which Maharani was scheduled to deliver her closing speech for the fifth parliamentary sitting session.

Apart from passing the Papua special autonomy bill, House members also had several other agendas at the plenary session, including the government's proposed bill on the 2020 state budget accountability.

The members also received the House's Commission VII's report of the fit and protest test results for candidates of the Downstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Agency's (BPH Migas') committee head and members for the 2021-2025 term.

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In connection with the Papua special autonomy bill, ANTARA noted that the Papua Special Autonomy Law No. 21 of 2001, which has been in force for nearly two decades, will expire by November this year.

The Papua special autonomy law has paved the way for significant amount of funds to flow into Papua and West Papua.

Indonesian Home Minister Tito Karnavian had also hinted earlier that the special autonomy funds must be extended to the two provinces for two more decades to boost sustainable development there.

"The special autonomy funds are so indispensable. More than 60 percent (of Papua's budgetary sources) are also obtained from the funds," Karnavian stated during a hearing with the House's Papua Special Autonomy Fund Committee on June 24, 2021.

However, allocation of the special autonomy funds is set to end with the expiry of the Papua Special Autonomy Law No. 21 of 2001 in November this year, according to the minister.

Hence, Karnavian has called to soon extend funding allocation by another two decades.

The government is planning to increase the amount of special autonomy funds, from two percent to 2.25 percent of the General Allocation Funds (DAU), he pointed out.

The government's plan has intentionally been incorporated in the bill for amending the Papua Special Autonomy Law No. 21 of 2001, Karnavian stated.

The special autonomy funds, which the central government plans to increase, will not be completely offered in the form of a block grant, he revealed.

Several parties in Papua have suggested that one percent of the funds be provided in the form of a block grant, while the remaining 1.25 percent be offered in the form of an earmarked specific grant, he stated.

The request for earmarked specific grants for public services will be determined by the central government to optimize sustainable development and boost Papuans' prosperity, he remarked.

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