Australia Awards in Indonesia

The Australia Awards are prestigious, transformational scholarships and short courses offered to emerging leaders for study, research and professional development in Australia

13 Jul 2023

Wahyu Adi Perdana: Improving Customs and Excise Services to Meet Global Trade Trends

Wahyu Adi Perdana, an Australia Awards alumnus, describes his work as a customs and excise officer as having two sides to the same coin.

On the one hand, Wahyu, as he is affectionately known, must provide timely customs and excise services to exporters, importers, and logistics firms to prevent constraining trade. On the other hand, he must ensure that all goods shipped in and out of Indonesia comply with regulations to avoid trade-related offences, such as smuggling, from causing financial losses to the state or endangering domestic consumers.

“We have the service and the enforcement functions. On the service side, we have to smile and be friendly with all our customers. On the enforcement part, we have to be strict," said Wahyu, a Director General of Customs and Excise staff member at the Ministry of Finance.

"Customs and excise do not only collect revenue. We facilitate trade so that it can be done at the lowest cost and shortest time possible. We assist domestic industry to grow and to do exports. And finally, we are community protectors. We protect people and industry from hazardous goods and unfair trade that threaten the community and domestic industries.”

Wahyu spent the first eight years as an enforcement analyst at Tanjung Priok Port's customs and excise main service office in North Jakarta. Working in Indonesia's largest and busiest port allowed Wahyu to hone his skills in trade-related technicalities, such as law enforcement and international trade regulations.

His primary responsibility was examining reports of alleged shipment violations at the country's key export and import gateway.

“When I received a report, I examined whether it would be possible to carry out law enforcement. After my colleague completed the enforcement, I would conduct a follow-up analysis to determine whether we needed to conduct an additional investigation for an in-court proceeding or whether it was simply an administrative offence,” said Wahyu.

While working at Tanjung Priok, Wahyu contributed to detecting trade-related offences, such as fraud and smuggling. One of Wahyu and his team’s achievements was in 2015 when they foiled an attempt to smuggle 114 kilograms of pearls worth nearly IDR 45 billion (AUD4.49 million).

“The perpetrators did not declare their export goods correctly and tried not to comply with the rule of law, which violates state financial rights to foreign exchange and harms the creation of value-adding in the domestic economy. Had they declared their pearl shipment correctly, we could help them legally facilitate their exports,” he said.

Broadening knowledge through SSMP

The tremendous growth of e-commerce in recent decades has dramatically boosted global trade traffic since consumers may buy and ship things from even remote places.

Changes in manufacturing have also complicated customs duties. The production of goods is no longer confined to a single factory. A firm can hire multiple companies in different countries to make different components of their products before assembling them in their factory.

“It used to be that one country would manufacture a single item and ship it worldwide. Now, for example, a garment company can cut the garment material in Vietnam and then ship it to Indonesia to be made into clothes, which are then shipped back to the company,” Wahyu explained.

“As a result, customs offices must act quickly to avoid a logistics bottleneck that might disrupt the entire supply chain without compromising security and safety risks."

To overcome challenges in the constantly evolving field of international trade, Wahyu felt that he had to broaden his knowledge. So, when the Ministry of Finance and Australia Awards offered the Split-Site Masters Program (SSMP), he applied for the program without hesitation.

The Split-Site Masters Program (SSMP) is a unique Masters program that allows participants to study in Indonesia and Australia. Selected participants will spend 12 months of study at both an Indonesian institution and an Australian university, concluding in awarding two Masters degrees in one connected subject of study. It targets the specific development objectives of participating Indonesian organisations and offers value by improving the capabilities of their professional employees.

“In the future, customs and excise officers must have an international perspective. They must be aware of global trade trends to recognise opportunities and threats. That is why I decided to pursue study in a Masters program,” Wahyu said.

Helicopter view

After a strict selection process, Wahyu and eight others at the Ministry of Finance were selected for the program. He decided to study for a Master of Science in Economics at the University of Indonesia in the first year, from July 2018 to July 2019. In the second year, from July 2019 to July 2020, he studied for the Master of Applied Economics at the University of Adelaide.

“I was pleased that I chose Applied Economics at the University of Adelaide because I was able to learn economic theory, policy, and data. The combination of these three aspects can be used for many purposes depending on the circumstances,” Wahyu explained.

When Wahyu returned to Indonesia following his graduation in July 2020, he spent three months at his previous office at Tanjung Priok Port before being promoted to his current position as the Director General of Customs and Excise staff member.

Wahyu’s current job includes assisting the director general in developing regulations and policies. He stated that his knowledge from studying under the SSMP assisted him in completing the field experience he got while working at Tanjung Priok Port.

“In my previous job, I executed regulations, and now, I see how my supervisors formulate policy. In my current position, with my knowledge, I get a helicopter view of how things are done,” he said.

With knowledge of economic science and applied economics under his belt, Wahyu hopes he

can work and collaborate with other units within the Ministry of Finance or even stakeholders outside the ministry.

“I am still pursuing my career,” he said. “I hope I can build my career to the top and develop my managerial competency with the experience I gained from studying in Australia.”

Share this article on:

Related Article

Back to Top