Indonesian officials say no language tests for foreign workers

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia will not compel foreign workers to take examinations to demonstrate proficiency in Bahasa, government officials said on Monday (Oct 19), denying media reports of plans for such a requirement to be introduced by the end of the year.

President Joko Widodo, who took office a year ago, is making a concerted effort to attract much-needed foreign investment into South-east Asia's largest economy, from reshuffling his Cabinet to adopting new stimulus measures.

In March, the government decided against language tests for foreigners seeking work permits, following protests by investors who viewed the step as a protectionist measure.

On Monday, an official of the manpower ministry said the government would not require, but only recommend, that foreigners learn the local language, in order to ease the transfer of knowledge and technology to Indonesians.

"There is no language requirement for foreigners," Heri Sudarmanto, director of foreign workers, told Reuters. "This requirement will not be applied to foreign workers looking to extend their work permit."

His comments came in the wake of Friday's reports quoting an official of the manpower ministry as saying the language requirement would apply to foreigners seeking to extend work permits after working in Indonesia for a year.

A senior adviser to the manpower minister, Muhammad Hanif Dhakiri, confirmed that President Widodo's administration would not impose any language requirements. However, local governments could independently decide to adopt such measures, he added.

Currently, foreigners do not have to speak Indonesian to receive a work permit.