People a re the true natural resources of this va st frontier province
PAPUA IS WILDERNESS TERRITORY WITH MINERAL RESERVES OF GREAT POTENTIAL, INCLUDING COPPER, GOLD AND SILVER. WELFARE TOPS THE AGENDA AND REVENUES WILL BENEFIT EDUCATION AND HEALTHCARE.

Papua, formerly called Irian Jaya, is located at the far-eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. It is the biggest province in the country and one of the world’s new frontiers. Occupying the western half of the island of New Guinea, it covers an area roughly equal to one-fifth of Indonesia’s entire landmass, and is bordered by the independent state of Papua New Guinea.
A land of vast forests, seas rich with life and millions of acres suitable for agriculture, Papua holds virtually limitless natural resources. These are made use of by the province’s main industries which include copper ore, gold and silver mining, oil and gas.

Papua is fresh territory for investors but the American presence is already clearly in evidence. In April this year, the US ambassador to Indonesia, Ralph L. Boyce, visited the province to meet with officials, civic leaders and American residents living in the region, and to tour cultural sites. As well as the provincial capital of Jayapura, he visited the Freeport Indonesia mining operation which involves US investment.
The need to attract greater interest from abroad to develop large-scale initiatives, like mining operations, is crucial . Clearly, for some US firms and other international companies, it is already a profitable place to do business.

J.P. SOLOSSA
J.P. SOLOSSA
Governor of Papua Province

Papua’s Governor Jacobus Pervida Solossa is pleased about the American involvement and he invites more US firms to come forward. “As well as the mineral reserves here, there is also
potential in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism,” he says. “We are now trying to look
for more foreign investors,” adds Mr. Solossa.
In recent months, representatives of Papua have traveled to Singapore and Malaysia to highlight investment opportunities. There are investor incentives, including tax alleviation and free import duty on capital investment and the availability of low-cost labor. The province has also established a website with information targeting business users.
By attracting more entrepreneurs the government aims to increase employment in the towns and cities, and open up the market for local village producers. The need to build the economy up from a grass-roots level is paramount if Papua is to become more prosperous and fulfill its true potential. This means nurturing traditional local industries. “Economy building at a grass-roots level can be done through sectors like handicrafts and tourism,” says Mr. Solossa.

THE PAPUAN authorities are committed to social development and want to extend the distribution of wealth by attracting more firms to develop commercial operations.

In such a large province, transportation is a key issue and improvements to the road network are one of the administration’s top priorities. Mr. Solossa says that he would like to see more and better roads connecting the major centers of the province, which would generate multiple economic benefits to the surrounding communities. He is also backing the proposal for a trans-Irian highway. “Maybe in 10 or 20 years from now, we will be building this highway. In the meantime, during my period as Governor, I’m trying to link the regencies by road,” he says.
Other methods of transport are well developed and there is an extensive system of ports and airports. The international airport, Biak, has the longest airstrip in the country and there are plans to open up new air routes from here to Tokyo – a journey of four to five hours – and Australia. Biak’s strong transport links led to the establishment of Papua’s first industrial and export processing zone there. Along with the advantages of flat terrain for building on, its strategic location provides easy access to other Asian countries, the Pacific Rim market and the US.
The education of its diverse and disparate people is another challenge facing Papua’s administration. Hundreds of local languages and ethnic groups have naturally caused communication difficulties, although Bahasa, the national Indonesian language, is widely used in remote inner areas.
“Because of the size of Papua, our people are dispersed and this means that our human resources are spread thin. It’s difficult to coordinate the education of many people because of the problems in reaching them,” says Mr. Solossa.

He explains that the new autonomy law “is making things easier” allowing greater local decision-making and channeling resources to where they are most needed.
According to the law, the province will get 80 percent of the revenue from forestry and 70 percent of the revenue from oil, gas and mining. The revenue from oil, gas and mining will be reviewed after 25 years and during that time the central government will give the Papuan people increased funding for education and healthcare.
“My goal is to make sure we give everyone a good education and I want the local people to feel that they are the leaders here. We will make the local people proud,” says Mr. Solossa.

As part of the financial sharing agreement with central government Papua will receive $600 million, of which Mr. Solossa has earmarked 30 percent to go on human resources development and about 15 percent on public health. “The people are the true natural resources. We will build up the province and help the poorer people here,” he adds.
Mr. Solossa believes that the more developed parts of the province can take a leading role in helping the less-developed, more remote, areas.
“Our principle is that the rich regions can help the poor regions,” he says. “We are all the same, Papuan people.
“We have the potential and conditions here for foreign investment and I believe that the the future of Indonesia is Papua.”

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