Interview: Joko Widodo

How are land acquisition hurdles being addressed to accelerate government infrastructure projects?

JOKO WIDODO: The land acquisition process begins with the so-called tax object sale value (NJOP). Problematically, though, 99% of owners do not accept this price for their land. First appraisals are normally rejected, and only about half of landowners accept the second. This being so, land acquisition from those who serially refuse offers can last up to seven years. I go to people directly to arrange a solution, but if the price they demand is unacceptable then sadly what follows is stalemate. On the outer South Jakarta toll road, we are dealing with some 140 landowners (and in the North, another 120), most of whom have not accepted our offers. On state-owned land, the process is far easier, and we offer complete solutions to displaced residents – usually including a local furnished apartment – to ease the process for them. The Jakarta Monorail will be an example of success largely because the land was government-owned, but even that on completion will have taken 14 years.

Regulations from the central government must be simplified and NJOP and appraisal prices calculated more realistically, to reduce time-consuming and expensive contestations. New regulations for land acquisition, implemented in late September 2013, should help further resolve these issues.

How has the Jakarta Health Card programme been received by the public and by hospitals?

JOKOWI: The idea for this programme arose during my visits to kampungs (villages) where thousands of squatters and families, though acutely ill, were staying at home with no money to pay for health care. As of its launch in November 2012, poor citizens with this card can get free treatment – including operations – at public clinics and private or government hospitals. I have already given out some 2.2m health cards, and the programme’s budget runs at about Rp1.5trn ($150m), which is more than enough.

Though at first many hospital staff voiced concerns about the higher flow of patients, of whom about 510,000 were acutely ill, I have been addressing these problems daily. Hospitals had initially come under strain as new cardholders began to visit all at once, but the situation has since stabilised. Now, with this system here to stay, we can better serve the people.

How is permitting for businesses and construction projects being made more efficient in Jakarta?

JOKOWI: We now have a one-stop service office called Pelayanan Terpadu Satu Pintu that we are testing in one municipality in East Jakarta. With such licensing offices we can serve the business community in a better and more transparent way, such as with company registration or trading permits. Not just in Jakarta but all over Indonesia, it can take four to eight months to register a company or issue a housing construction permit. Now, the former takes three days; and the latter, two. This is our ambitious new idea and, if successful in East Jakarta, I will request its implementation in all Jakarta municipalities.

Do you have a message for investors or business people looking to operate in Jakarta?

JOKOWI: I would invite them to look at all of the different projects we are undertaking, details of which can be found on our website. They include a 200-ha land reclamation project in North Jakarta, new monorail lines serving Bekasi, Jakarta, Tangerang and the airport (to be completed by mid-2017), and the NorthSouth line of Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit (by 2019 at the latest), better drainage systems (by March 2017) and other projects to improve inner-city congestion. All of this will increasingly have a positive knock-on effect in the property market, and Jakarta will emerge as truly one of the best cities for investors in Southeast Asia. The price of the property is still at a medium level, not yet in the same league as Singapore or Hong Kong, so there are still many opportunities.