Electronic visas, special counters at Jakarta and Batam among Indonesia's measures for proposed green lane with Singapore

Electronic visas, special counters at Jakarta and Batam among Indonesia's measures for proposed green lane with Singapore

The spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tangerang
FILE PHOTO: Passengers wearing protective masks carry their luggage at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, in Tangerang near Jakarta, Indonesia. (Reuters/Willy Kurniawan)

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government is preparing an electronic visa system and special counters at the airport serving Jakarta and Batam ferry terminal for a "reciprocal green lane" with Singapore, said Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly.

The preparations are being made following discussions on a “reciprocal green lane” to allow essential travel.

In a statement on Thursday (Oct 1), the minister said immigration officials would prepare special counters for Singapore residents who want to enter Indonesia through the green lane.

An electronic visa service is also planned to be available from Oct 15 to support the green lane with Singapore.

"We will provide special counters for the green lane at Soekarno-Hatta Airport (near Jakarta) and Batam so they (Singaporeans) won’t be together with others. We will make special routes and signboards.

"The electronic visa service is also almost done and is planned to be operational on Oct 15. But we may still need to coordinate with the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises regarding the Electronic Data Capture for payments by debit or credit card," said Mr Laoly.

READ: 5 things you need to know about the business travel pass

Foreigners who want to visit Indonesia via the green lane will need to apply for a visa and have a guarantor in Indonesia. The green lane would facilitate travel for businessmen, skilled workers, investors, or public officials.

Indonesia is also revising a law about a ban for foreigners to enter the country, Mr Laoly said on Thursday, to enable essential travel between the two countries.  

In April, the Indonesian government banned foreigners from entering the country to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, long-term pass holders are exempted.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and his foreign counterpart Retno Marsudi
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan hosted lunch for Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi on Aug 25, 2020. (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

A statement by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Aug 25 said that both sides are set to begin discussions on a "reciprocal green lane" to allow essential travel to gradually resume.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi agreed that both countries should work closely together to strengthen public health cooperation, enhance economic growth and investments, deepen financial cooperation and facilitate safe travel, said the statement.

"Given the strong business links between Singapore and Indonesia, the two foreign ministers tasked the officials to begin discussions on a 'reciprocal green lane' to allow for essential travel to gradually resume in a manner that would safeguard public health and safety in both countries."

Singapore has been the largest investor in Indonesia for the last five years. Last month, President Joko Widodo expressed his hope for both sides to have a reciprocal green lane immediately, noting that it could pave the way for investments coming into Indonesia.

In the first quarter of 2020, Singapore was Indonesia’s top foreign investor, with a total of US$2.7 billion in realised investments, according to data from the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board.

Indonesia coronavirus
An official wearing a protective mask to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which began in Wuhan, checks the temperature of passenger at the Batam International port in Batam, Riau island on Jan 28, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Sei Ratifa)

Mr Laoly also said in his Thursday statement that extra attention should be given to the health facilities in Batam, including having COVID-19 referral hospitals ready.

"Since there will be an entry point in Batam, we asked the Minister of Health and the governor to guarantee the readiness of the health infrastructure according to the COVID-19 procedure in Batam.

“Also, (prepare) the referral hospitals so that if anyone is identified as a COVID-19 positive, she or he can be accepted by the health facilities which are recognised by both countries," he said.

Currently, Singapore has reciprocal green lane arrangements with China, Malaysia, Brunei, South Korea and Japan. Indonesia has similar arrangements with China, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. 

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Source: CNA/ks(aw)

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