Tito Summa Siahaan & Ivan Dasa Saputra
The plan to move the entire archipelago to a single time zone within the year received overwhelming support on Friday from businesspeople and economists, who say it would improve Indonesia’s competitiveness.
The country’s current westernmost time zone is GMT+7, the central is GMT+8 and the easternmost is GMT+9.
Under the plan, all of Indonesia would be at GMT+8, matching Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.
It would also put Indonesia in the same time zone as the whole of China, which spans five time zones but adopted GMT+8 for all its territory in 1949.
Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) chairman Sofyan Wanandi called the plan “a government policy with quality” that would help improve Indonesia’s economic competitiveness.
The single time zone will better align Indonesia’s business hours with those of its trading partners, he said on Friday.
Aviliani, an economist at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance, believed the time unification would do Indonesia good.
“It will make Indonesia’s financial market more integrated with other markets in the region like Hong Kong and Singapore, it will increase the flow of exports and imports and cooperation between different regional governments,” said Aviliani, who is also a member of the National Economic Council (KEN).
Businesses focused on exports also welcomed the plan. Iswar Deni, the corporate secretary of Pan Brothers, said, “We welcome it because it could reduce the time difference [with trading partners].”
Iswar Deni said her company exported its products, but time differences hindered distribution. Punctuality in distribution is crucial for the company, she added.
“Some of our suppliers and buyers are in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Taiwan and that’s why we welcome this plan,” she said.
Luky Eko Wuryanto, the secretary of the Indonesian Economic Development Committee (KP3EI), the government body spearheading the plan, said on Friday that no date had bee set for the change, “but we believe it must be implemented this year.”
KP3EI spokesman Edib Muslim said they were proposing the change be done on Youth Pledge Day, which falls on Oct. 28 this year. “It’s the day when our predecessors pledged to have one motherland, one nation and one language,” Edib said. “And later we can add ‘one time zone.’ ”
When the proposal was first aired, the date of Aug. 17 — Independence Day — was proposed for the start.
Aviliani acknowledged that the time change would require a lot of administrative adjustments. “We have to make sure we take care of every detail so it will not be rejected by the public,” she added.
But Luky, who is also deputy minister for infrastructure and regional development, said the change would have little impact on how Indonesians conducted their daily activities. “It’s just an hour difference,” he said.