Jakarta – BRIN Public Relations. Indonesia is an archipelagic country with 542 regions stretching from Sabang to Merauke. From the perspective of geopolitical position, Indonesia has the issue of serious span of control because of large distance between the national/central government and regencies/municipalities, including the span of control between provincial capital cities and remote areas, especially border areas.

“We have many obstacles and challenges in developing border areas. On the other hand these areas have potentials that we must explore and hence need recommendations in determining the strategic steps to encourage community empowerment there so that we can strengthen nationalism, Indonesianness, and maintain the value of local culture and local democracy in the midst of Indonesianness and regionalism,” said Head of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Laksana Tri Handoko when opening the Prof Talks entitled “Building Indonesia from the Border”, on Tuesday (29/3) .

Handoko added that BRIN has a Deputy for Regional Research and Innovation that is expected to become a partner for local governments at the provincial/city/district levels and to develop evidence & science-based policies that are more data-based, rational, and scientific. “We have researchers specifically related to the today’s topic who have joined the Governance, Economics and Community Welfare Research Organization and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Organization. These two Research Organizations conduct studies, research, and provide recommendations for development of Indonesia, especially border areas,” he continued.

“BRIN is expected to contribute by providing services based on the skills and expertise of our researchers, including the topic of building Indonesia from the border. Providing excellent public services in remote locations with relatively limited human resources and infrastructure requires breakthroughs. New integrated innovations in border areas can guarantee optimal services,” explained Handoko.

On the same occasion, Bambang Subiyanto, Chairman of BRIN’s Council of Research Professors said that technological intervention in border areas is one of main obstacles in implementing technologies because border areas are very vulnerable. However, along with economic development, border areas may also have potentials with their strategic conditions.

In the beginning of his presentation, the speaker and moderator, Eko Prasojo, Professor of Public Policy, Governance, Administrative Reform from the University of Indonesia explained that President Jokowi once said that he would put priority on developing the nation from the periphery including border areas in his national development programs since his first term in office continued to the second term. “Border areas are indeed distant in terms of span of control from the central government, provincial governments, district/city governments but they have strategic and critical roles. Strategic means playing a long-term role for Indonesia and critical means having a very important urgency for the survival of the Indonesian nation and state,” he said.

Meanwhile, Restuardy Daud, Chief Secretary of the National Border Management Agency (BNPP) representing the Minister of Home Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, explained that border management is a representation of the state’s presence and fulfils the rights of citizens living on the border areas that have a strategic and potential position because they intersect with neighboring countries. “The role of BNPP which consists of 27 ministries/institutions and local governments in developing border areas is to strengthen national borders, manage cross-border activities, and build regional borders according to the characteristics of each region. This needs synergy and synchronization between ministries/agencies and each should position themselves in the action plan so that there is no duplication,” he said.

Restuardy also explained that there are three major steps to take by the government in strengthening development and the role of villages. First, regulation; issuance of Law No. 6 of 2014 concerning Villages. Second, institutions; to strengthen institutions at the national level by forming a special Ministry that handles villages, disadvantaged regions and transmigration. Third, village funds which source from the State Budget for national economic recovery, national priority programs, and adaptation to new habits.

“There are a total of 1,031 districts located in Indonesia’s border areas, consisting of 562 districts bordering neighboring countries and 469 districts bordering the high seas. Currently, there are 222 districts in the 2020-2024 Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJM) with a poverty rate of 57.41 percent,” said Restuardy.

In addition, Siti Zuhro, Research Professor for Politics and Governance – BRIN said that the main issue for people living at the border is welfare and inadequate infrastructure development. Acceleration and development involving the National Border Management Agency (BNPP) has so far not shown encouraging results.

“A commitment is needed to change the paradigm of border development by changing the course of development policies, in addition to increasing the capacity of local governments and local community economic activities to be innovative, participatory, agile and support from all relevant stakeholders (central and regional),” he explained.

Furthermore, Siti Zuhro explained that information technology has now become a means to encourage the performance of local government organizations to be more efficient. In addition to public services, digitizing services is also expected to create good government. The challenges are regulatory issues at the central level, mastery of technology, and equitable and adequate technology infrastructure.

“On the other hand, changes in global conditions also require adjustments in the line of life, including governance to provide good or excellent services to the community,” he concluded. (yl ed sl)