Interview: Basuki “Ahok” Purnama

How will you address concerns about bureaucratic inefficiencies hampering Jakarta’s development, especially with regards to infrastructure projects?

BASUKI AHOK: If Indonesia is to become more effective and efficient in budget spending, then we will have to improve bureaucratic procedures on all levels. Jakarta needs to be a role model for the rest of the country. So far, we have eliminated Rp2.3trn ($190m) from fees and red tape related to infrastructure projects, and we will continue to strengthen our efforts in this respect.

The root of the problem is corruption. More bureaucracy allows for more corruption, and this is why a firm hand is needed in tackling this issue. Under Indonesian law, public officials at the first and second levels are heavily scrutinised and have to report to the Corruption Eradication Commission. More needs to be done in this regard, and the law should be applied to all public officials, on all levels. If we do not act strongly on this matter, corruption will prevail, bureaucracy will increase, and as a result, much-needed infrastructure projects will be delayed or cancelled.

What role will IT and the creative industries play in your administration, and what opportunities might this bring for the private sector?

AHOK: IT implementation is essential for any administration, as it not only allows cost cutting and greater efficiency, but also helps in monitoring and controlling capital transactions to and from our local government, which is fundamental. We want to control our city budget, which is expected to reach $1bn by 2017, and make sure our money is spent correctly.

On a more personal level, using e-money and promoting a cashless society in Jakarta will also help in areas such as public transport. Today 70% of bus users in Jakarta use e-money on a daily basis, and we want to expand this to the entire network. Additionally, we plan to implement electronic road pricing and to install 3000 CCTV cameras throughout the city by 2016. Although these projects might be costly, I strongly believe that they are all for the benefit of the people of Jakarta. We will only realise this in the long term.

How will your administration increase the number of qualified and skilled workers in Jakarta?

AHOK: We need to make sure that Indonesia benefits from its demographic dividend, with the larger part of the population being of working age. To this end, the city government needs to provide for those who cannot afford the most basic needs: health and education. Health is essential for everyone and should be addressed first. In some cases, it is hard for lower-income people to access a hospital, so we are opening and upgrading clinics in city markets, making these more convenient and accessible to the lower-income population.

Immediately after health comes education. Statistics show that 40% of young Jakartans aged 16-18 drop out of school. This is often because it costs about $65-70 per month and per student, and the monthly minimum wage is just $200. In many cases families are thus unable to take on the financial burden of giving a proper education to the younger generations. We want to address this by providing better services for the population.

What message would you like to convey to international investors about Jakarta?

AHOK: Investors will soon see a different climate for investment in Jakarta. We plan to implement a programme similar to the One Stop Service initiated by the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board. This will provide all the information needed to invest in Jakarta online and will make the investment process fast, secure and easy. The importance of IT in this administration is therefore clear. Jakarta will be a more promising city to invest in. Tourism, hotels, and the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions segments are still growing, with great opportunities for investment. We need to bring investors here, making sure they understand that we are tackling issues such as bureaucracy, corruption, transport bottlenecks and infrastructure gaps.