The Queen of the Netherlands, Maxima, visited Indonesia between 11-13 February 2018 to monitor the progress of Indonesia's Financial Inclusion Program, a program that was launched in August 2016 during Maxima's last visit to Indonesia. Hence, during her latest visit, the Dutch Queen came in her role as the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.
Indonesia's Financial Inclusion Program is a government effort to improve public access for all Indonesian people to financial services such as banking, credit, insurance, and pension funds. Among the program's targets is to raise the ratio of access to financial penetration up to 75 percent of the total Indonesian population by 2019. Currently, there are still many Indonesians who lack access to financial services, especially those who work in the agriculture sector in the remote areas.
This is an important program because access to finance for the community contributes to the nation's economic and social development and reduces poverty.
For Queen Maxima Indonesia is the third country she visited in Asia, following China and South Korea in early February. During her visit to Jakarta, Maxima also met Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the State Palace to talk about the program's progress. Widodo said there are two key obstacles to the expansion of financial inclusion in Indonesia: (1) the system and (2) licensing. Both need to be simplified in order to boost financial inclusion.
Maxima's advise is three-fold. Firstly, the government needs to smoothen the use of the electronic identity card (e-KTP) for the opening of bank accounts. This will reduce the need for paperwork. As an illustration she said it only takes five seconds to open a bank account in India. Secondly, authorities need to develop digital money that will make payments more efficient, especially in the more remote areas. Thirdly, the government needs to focus on product innovation in cooperation with telecommunication providers for the opening of branch-less financial services.
When meeting Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Cultural Affairs Puan Maharani, Maxima was further informed about several efforts made by the Indonesian government to improve financial inclusion. For example, the government already issued 19.7 million Indonesian Smart Cards (Kartu Indonesia Pintar). This is non-cash aid for the poorest families (to put their children to school). Meanwhile, the government's Family Hope Program (Program Keluarga Harapan), a non-cash transfer program for the nation's poorest households, will reach 10 million families in 2018 (up from 6 million families last year).
Maxima also met the board of Indonesia's first unicorn Go-Jek, a ride-hailing start up that is particularly known for its online on-demand motorcycle and car taxi services. This rapidly growing company has a rising workforce, most of whom have humble backgrounds and therefore difficulty to access financial services.
Diplomatic Relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia; Overview of the Recent Past
Relations between Indonesia and its former colonial masters have been volatile over the years. Notable examples of turbulent relations in the recent past (both positive and negative) include the following:
• In 2010 then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called off a state visit to the Netherlands at the very last moment after the separatist group 'Republic of South Moluccas' (RMS) - located in the Netherlands since 1966 - asked for Yudhoyono's arrest when touching ground in the Netherlands. Being head of the Indonesian state Yudhoyono would be held responsible for past war crimes. The Indonesian government requested certainty from the Dutch government that Yudhoyono would not be arrested and prosecuted. However, the Dutch government explained that such matters fall outside the scope of its authority (trias politica).
• In 2012 a tank deal (involving the purchase of 100 Dutch second-hand tanks), worth around USD $280 million, failed between Indonesia and the Netherlands after Dutch parliament disapproved the deal on concern that the Indonesian government could use these vehicles against its own people. Indonesian authorities were angry about this explanation, and it was particularly sensitive considering the Dutch are the former colonial power in Indonesia.
• In November 2013 diplomatic relations between both nations were good again when a group of Dutch politicians and more than one hundred Dutch company delegates, led by prime minister Mark Rutte, paid a four-day visit to Indonesia aiming to enhance bilateral relations and search for business opportunities between both countries.
• In January 2015 diplomatic relations between both countries went downhill after Indonesia went ahead - despite fierce resistance from Dutch authorities - with the execution of several convicted foreign drug traffickers, including one Dutch citizen. The Netherlands then temporarily recalled its ambassador from Jakarta.
• In April 2016 Indonesian President Joko Widodo paid a two-day state visit to the Netherlands (part of his short visit to the European Union) where he was warmly welcomed by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. It was the first time in 16 years that an Indonesian president visited the Netherlands. This visit reportedly resulted in about USD $606 million worth of Dutch investment commitments in Indonesia.
• In late August/early September 2016 Queen Máxima of the Netherlands was in Indonesia for a three-day visit primarily to talk about the importance of financial inclusion (she came in her role as United Nation's Secretary-General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development). Queen Máxima was warmly welcomed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
• In September 2016 Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, announced the Netherlands plans to stop sending development aid to Indonesia (and four other nations) from 2020 onward because the economy of Indonesia has strengthened significantly. Therefore relations between both countries can be labelled "trading partners" from 2020.
• In November 2016 divers found out that three Dutch warships that had been sunk by Japanese forces during the Battle of the Java Sea in February 1942 (and had been lying on the bottom of the Java Sea off the coast of Java) were missing. This site was declared a war grave and is therefore protected by international law. Possibly scavengers looted the site in search of scrap metal. Indonesian authorities stated that they had never been asked to protect the site and can therefore not be held responsible. However, Indonesia and the Netherlands will work together to investigate the matter.
• In late-November 2016 Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte addressed Indonesian Parliament, praising Indonesia for rapid economic development that has been booked over the past decade. He also acknowledged that the Netherlands waited too long before apologizing (in 2005) for excessive violence that occurred shortly after the Second World War when the Dutch tried to reconquer their former colony. Rutte was in Indonesia for the 2016 trade mission. Together with Widodo, Rutte witnessed the signing of several agreements related to vocational training, diplomatic cooperation and the certification of fisheries.