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The Space Race: A Sought for Inter-Planetary Colonisation?

SpaceX launched unmanned Crew Dragon craft from Florida to International Space Station (ISS). As per Sunday (3/3/19) the craft is en route to a rendezvous with the ISS. This launch is a part of Public Private Partnership (PPP) between NASA and two private companies, Boeing and SpaceX. This partnership was announced in 2014, as a means of replacing the retired Space Shuttle in 2011.

This PPP is called Commercial Crew Program, aiming for the development and launch of human space transportation systems. Initially, these two companies should begin ferrying astronauts in 2017. Simply, a clear objective is to enable US government to fly to ISS without the need to buy seats on Russian Soyuz capsules. Ever since Space Shuttle retirement, US government had to pay $70.7 million for each one-way ticket transporting astronauts with Soyuz to, or from the ISS. It is the task of these two companies to make it a reality. SpaceX with the recently launched Dragon Crew spacecraft. While Boeing with it’s CST-100, planned for unmanned launch in April this year.

In order to launch Dragon Crew spacecraft, SpaceX relied on its Falcon 9 rocket. Falcon 9 is a reusable rocket, designed and manufactured by SpaceX. Reusability of rocket is a key to reduce the cost required for space exploration. It was also Falcon 9, with which Nusantara Satu satellite was launched in mid-February this year. Using Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX has paved a history in 2012 for being the first private company ever visited the ISS.

Another thrilling fact that I could grasp is how exploration as a basic human natural instinct hasn’t ceased to exist. Keyword: colonisation. It’s interesting how the same old spirit driving european countries to sent out explorative sea voyage missions in 15th centuries, which eventually lead to worldwide establishment of european colonies, is now fueling this inter-planetary-scale quest. Natural exploitation is of course inevitable, but perhaps we can feel better knowing that there is no currently known inhabitants of Mars, so those tragic history of the conquests of indigenous cultures is unnecessary.

But humans, by their intelligence and free will alone, will sure to be always giving birth to conflicts. Natgeo’s docudrama, Mars, presented those possible disputes between private and public exploration teams, on the early habitation of Mars. Well, what do we expect? Those two parties came to Mars for different objectives. Yet they had this resource problems at hand to be resolved.

China’s Off-Balance Sheet Municipal Govts’ Bond

Total financial decentralisation should not be considered as a panacea. Especially when municipal govts are miles away from self-sufficiency. In China, local governments are given freedom to issue bonds in order to finance its activities. It is a rated bond, for both general purpose and project financing.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Some of these bonds are issued under off-balance sheet scheme, so it is nowhere to be found on local govts’ financial positions. How come? In some cases, it’s because the bonds are issued by local-government financing vehicles (LGFV). Say, for example, bonds issued by Qinghai Provincial Investment Group Co. (QPIG), govt-owned aluminium producer, as can be seen here. Bloomberg recently reported that QPIG had failed to wire funds for a coupon payment due Feb 22, suggesting it is currently in default status.

However, the use of these off-balance sheet LGFV bonds to finance municipal infrastructure construction had been forbidden since 2014. or this scheme is to be replaced by another form of off-balance sheet bonds. The project municipal bonds. Yes, you heard it right, those are local govt project-financing bonds, yet just like LGFV bonds, are excluded from local govts’ book. It’s considered as special bonds which issuance was meant to partake in the endeavor to reform the high-piling LGFV debts.

Under this scheme, the cash flows from underlying projects will cover for interest and principal payments. And investors shall shoulder any shortfall. For example Henan Province’s 1.5 bill Yuan, 15-year project bond to finance new subways. It’s offered at 3.79 percent interest rate. These off-balance sheet local government bonds are attractive. According to Bloomberg, these securities offerred corporate bond yields, yet being perceived among investors as having quasi-sovereign credit status. Even though, in 2015 China State Council had stated that these bonds issued by LGFV qualify as corporate bonds. Which means, no government backstop.
Despite the cases of the default risk that has befallen similar off-balance sheet instruments, yield-thirsty investors doesn’t seem to budge. Bloomberg recent opinion column showed how AA rated, 3-year LGFV issues yield got compressed to 3.9 percent from 5 percent in just half a year.

Let’s also remember how China local govts’ had begun to swap those less-transparent LGFV debts into on-balance sheet bonds since 2015. In addition to current economic quarrel with US for the tariffs imposed to China, it is quite ironic seeing how Beijing holds up to the global one belt and road ambition.

Public Online Self-Service: Menakar Peluang Masa Depan CRM Pemerintah

Shah (2014) memberikan gambaran mengenai Customer Relationship Management (CRM) pemerintah, yakni terdiri dari sistem, perangkat lunak, dan metodologi untuk mengelola, mengukur, menganalisis, mengotomatisasi, serta sebaliknya memfasilitasi interaksi unit pemerintah dengan konstituen. Lebih lanjut menurut Shah, CRM, jika digunakan dalam lingkungan organisasi pemerintah seringkali jauh lebih kompleks dibandingkan dengan penerapannya untuk sektor swasta. Hal ini dapat dijelaskan dengan berbagai argumen:

  • Warga negara dapat menjadi bagian dari pemerintah dan pelanggan, dengan peranannya yang terus berubah dalam kaitannya dengan sektor publik.
  • Ada jauh lebih banyak silo yang perlu menjadi perhatian dalam pemerintahan berskala besar, di berbagai tingkat regional, jika dibandingkan dengan perusahaan. Hal ini membuat “one view of the customer” lebih sulit untuk dicapai.
  • Mengingat absennya motif keuntungan dalam sebagian besar aktivitas pemerintah, metrik yang mengukur keberhasilan serta tingkat pengembalian investasi (ROI) atas sebuah sistem CRM menjadi lebih sulit untuk ditentukan dalam pemerintahan daripada di sektor swasta.
  • Ada seabrek peraturan, standar, dan kebijakan yang mengatur berbagai hal. Termasuk di dalamnya berkaitan dengan soal keamanan, pengumpulan serta penggunaan data, dan pengadaan sistem yang ada di pemerintah namun tidak di sektor swasta.

Pengendalian Internal Berkaitan dengan IT

Ada dua jenis pengendalian yang berkaitan dengan pemanfaatan teknologi informasi yakni pengendalian umum (general control/gen-con) dan pengendalian aplikasi (application control/app-con). General control berkaitan dengan seluruh aspek dalam fungsi IT termasuk di dalamnya administrasi IT, pemisahan wewenang IT, pengembangan sistem, keamanan sistem informasi (secara fisik maupun dalam jaringan, atas hardware, software dan terlebih lagi data), backup dan perencanaan kontinjensi dalam keadaan darurat, serta pengendalian hardware. Pada umumnya general-control diterapkan pada skala entitas. Sedangkan application control diterapkan pada pemrosesan transaksi, misalnya pengendalian pada pemrosesan aktivitas penjualan dan penerimaan kas. Auditor diharuskan melakukan evaluasi pada application control atas kelas transaksi maupun akun yang hendak dikurangi risiko pengendaliannya. Application control hanya akan efektif bilamana general control efektif.

Transfer Fiskal antar Unit Pemerintah

Shah (2007) membagi dana transfer, yang merupakan instrumen keuangan antar pemerintah (instruments of intergovernmental finance), ke dalam dua kategori besar. Yakni dana transfer yang bersifat general-purpose (unconditional) dan yang bersifat specific-purpose (conditional). Dana transfer yang bersifat specific-purpose sendiri nantinya akan terbagi lagi ke dalam dua kategori, yakni nonmatching dan matching transfers. Pembagian ini menjadi penting untuk diketahui sebab menjelaskan karakteristik mendasar beserta tujuan dari masing-masing jenis dana transfer sebagai instrumen keuangan. Yang pada praktiknya, tentu saja akan membawa pengaruh terhadap perilaku unit pemerintah penerima transfer (recipients).