More capital assistance for Papuan women, officials promise

Financial help to Papuan businesswomen seriously lacking

The press in Papua has recently reported extensively on the allocation
of OTSUS funds to assist Papuans in their business operations, in
particular Papuan women referred to as ‘mama-mama’

On 11 June 2011, the JUBI tabloid newspaper reported that most of the
allocation of OTSUS funds is concentrated on public infrastructure and
government assets but insufficient attention is being paid to local
Papuan traders, including ‘mama-mama.’ The problem was raised in
particular by the head of the Oadate Major Clan, in the district of
Yapen-Waropen, Yulinus Kowela.

He said that OTSUS funds were being allocated almost entirely to
government officials, the government elite, as he called them.
‘Meanwhile, local Papuan traders and indigenous Papuan women continue to
be impoverished and on the margins, because of the nature of the
development according to OTSUS,’ said Yulinus.

‘For many years, we have been saying that OTSUS funds should be used to
combat poverty and improve the living conditions of indigenous Papuans.
But up to the present day, this hasn’t happened, people are asking about
this, including people living in the interior.’

He said that the allocaton of OTSUS funds should take account of the
fate of indigenous Papuan traders and not just focus on building
infrastructure such as road-building and building bridges in all the
districts. ‘The allocation of OTSIS money should be fairer and be used
to improve the conditions of women traders. They need help to be able to
obtain better facilities for their business activities,’ he said.

On 22 June, JUBI reported that the district chief of Merauke, Romanus
Mbaraka spoke of the need to pay attention to the little people and pay
greater attention to their need for capital. He said that the government
was planning to provide capital to groups of businesses, amounting to Rp
500,000 for each group.

At a ceremony in Gedung Negara, he symbolically handed over the money to
one group of traders. He said that the money was being allocated to
groups of businesses because past experience had shown that this was
better than allocating it to individuals. ‘In this way,’ he said, ‘the
monitoring process can be more easily managed.’

He said that the money was not being allocated for free but the groups
would be expected to repay the money but in this way, the groups would
have greater motivation to run their businesses well.’

‘If a business is successful, its earnings will increase, which means
that the government will be willing to help them again. He also said
that teams will be set up to monitor the businesses run by the women
such as those selling crabs or vegetables. This would motivate the
mama-mama to run their businesses well,’ he said.

[COMMENT: It remains to be seen whether this grand promise will bear
fruit in terms of promoting the economic interests of indigenous Papuans
in their never-ending difficulties to compete with the business acumen
of the thousands of Indonesians who flood into Papua and set up
businesses. TAPOL]

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