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Head of Seafarers Union Thinks 20,000 Balinese Working on Cruise Ships Should Be Compelled to Remit Foreign Exchange to the Island.

(3/10/2007) 15,000-20,000 Balinese are estimated to currently be employed on board cruise ships around the world earning important foreign exchange for Indonesia.

According to the President of the Indonesian Seafarers Association (KPI), Hanafi Rustandi, the lack of government regulations requiring the cruise ship workers to either save a portion of their wages or repatriate a portion of their income back to Bali causes the loss in value of the desperately needed foreign exchange to the Island.

Quoted in the Indonesian-language daily Bali Post, Hanafi said Indonesia would benefit greatly from exchange earned by Balinese if the Government followed the example of the Philippines which requires the repatriation of a portion of income earned abroad. As a result, according to Hanafi, repatriated income from Philippine expatriate workers represents the greatest single source of foreign exchange for that nation.

Continuing in the same vein, Hanafi extrapolated that if an estimated 15,000 Balinese expatriate seafarers earning an average US$1,000 per month were required to deposit 80% of that amount in a Balinese financial institution this would generate US$12 million dollars in foreign exchange for Bali every month.

The head of KPI also opined that regulationd requiring the repatriation of at least a portion of Balinese seafarers' wages would not only represent a valuable source of foreign exchange but also encourage saving among Bali's overseas workers.