The Deputy Governor of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Province, Josef Adreanus Nae Soi, has offered his support to budget allocation for increasing the capacity of the marine pollution response team, with the addition of new members. The move is part of wider efforts to mitigate the risk of oil spills and lessen their impact through training and other activities. The new stance was confirmed during an official meeting held on Thursday, 22 September 2022 in the NTT governor’s meeting room.

The meeting was led by the Head of the Marine Pollution and Damage Response Team, Ondy Christian Siagiaan, along with the Head of the Environment and Forestry Office of NTT Province. As the team leader, Ondy informed the Deputy Governor of NTT of activities that have been carried out by the Marine Pollution and Environmental Damage Response Team, one of which was the ‘Regional Exchange on Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Workshop’, held in Singapore in August 2022. In this activity, many lessons were learned by representatives from Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea, while new opportunities for cooperation in responding to oil spill pollution between countries also emerged as a result of the event.

Image Credit: Environment and Forestry Service Forestry Province of NTT

The meeting in NTT was an opportunity to confirm that the team has completed a preliminary study, entitled ‘Funding for the Countermeasures of Oil Spill Pollution in the Sea’. They also asked the Deputy Governor of NTT to provide further direction for this study. Moreover, Ondy invited representatives of the contract partners of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) through the ATSEA-2 Program, namely PT BMT as a partner of the Marine Pollution and Damage Response Team, to submit the results of the study. 

PT BMT provided four options as recommendations for consideration by the NTT Provincial Government, which included routine funding for training and emergency response or preparedness. The four options were (1) a disaster management fund, (2) a state budget emergency fund, (3) an unexpected fund, and (4) a grant fund. The Deputy Governor expressed his support for the allocation of funds for training, but not for emergency response/ preparedness funds. 

Nevertheless, in the context of preparing a disaster budget for oil spills, the central government still needs support. The disaster funding model is considered feasible at the regional level, and can also be used to build capacity at the provincial level in support of prevention efforts. Moving forwards, A more detailed discussion related to disaster funding concepts needs to be scheduled, to agree on a model that is compatible with regional capacity and can be centralised and adopted at the regional level. 

In July 2021, the NTT Provincial Government took a lead role in protecting the marine environment, taking steps to prevent, prepare for and respond to oil spills. The Governor of NTT also issued Decree No. 260/2021 concerning the Marine Pollution and Damage Response Team in the Waters of NTT Province, which combines cross-sectoral local government involvement with additional support from the relevant ministries. The MMAF, through the ATSEA-2 Project, will continue to support this progress, so that NTT Province can independently and effectively respond to the threat of oil spill pollution at sea.

(By Khaifin)