Mataram – Minister of Home Affairs Gen. (ret.) Tito Karnavian has stated that the government would not form new provinces or new regions across Indonesia, including in Papua Land this year.
Earlier, discussions triggered by statements from public figures had prompted a wave of protests against the plan to establish three new provinces in Papua Land, internationally known as West Papua.
"Not yet, because new provinces establishment would need money and [the country] currently doesn't have it," Karnavian said after attending a meeting with West Nusa Tenggara governor Zulkieflimansyah and deputy governor Sitti Rohmi Djalilah in Mataram City on Saturday, April 24, 2021.
Karnavian said there were 317 submissions for new administrative regions establishement. However, none of them have been approved to as the country's financial situation had been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There was a plan in 2019 that new autonomous regions will be formed in accordance to the priority scale but at that time, we didn't expect the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy," said Karnavian.
He said that the pandemic had decreased state revenues and increased spending that the government could not form new administrative regions. "Health and economic recovery is the central government's priority right now," he said.
Even though the approval for new regions was off the list this year, Karnavian said that it would commence again, although he did not know when.
"It depends on the progress of the health crisis management. If we achieve an economic surplus, let's do the new administrative regions. If not, then don't," said Karnavian.
Previously, the government was reportedly going to endorse eight new provinces that had already passed the discussion in 2013. The eight provinces comprising the Tapanuli, Nias Islands, the Great Bolaang Mongondow, Sumbawa Islands, the Great Kapuas, Southwest Papua, Central Papua, and South Papua.