President Joko Widodo: Viewpoint

President Joko Widodo

Viewpoint: Joko Widodo

The dream of our government and of all Indonesians, our true ambition, is that by 2045, after one century of Indonesian independence, Indonesia will have escaped the middle-income trap. We have a clear goal of becoming an advanced country. We believe that if the current momentum persists and our economy continues to grow at today’s rates, we can become an advanced country by 2045, one in which Indonesians have an annual income of Rp320m ($22,600) per capita, or a monthly income of Rp27m ($1900) per capita. That is our target, and it should not be just the goal of our government, but the goal of all Indonesians.

Our dream is that by 2045 Indonesia’s GDP will reach $7trn. Our country can become one of the top-five world economies, with a poverty rate close to 0%. We should keep this goal ahead of us and heed it when strategising for our future.

We have counted, and we have calculated, and that target is both reasonable and possible for us to achieve. It must be accomplished through hard work, and we have to work quickly; it must be coupled with productivity from the people of our nation. In a world that is full of risk, we have continued to develop new methods and new values to accomplish our targets. The current global economy is both dynamic and competitive, and thus we must avoid getting stuck in a monotonous routine.

Innovation should not just become knowledge; innovation should become a culture. When our administration first arrived at the presidential palace in 2014, we invited government officials and the public to a halal bi halal (a post-Eid Al Fitr gathering). The protocol officers asked me to stand in a certain spot, and that first year I complied. The next year we hosted another halal bi halal, and the protocol officers again asked me to stand in the same spot. I immediately whispered to Pratikno, the state secretary, “Pak, we should change our locations. If we do not move, then our spots will become the norm. After some time, it will be considered a rule, and eventually it might even be considered a law.” Continually remaining in the same position: this is what I mean by a monotonous routine.

Breaking out of a routine – a practice that has been followed repeatedly for a very long time – is something critical for our country to accomplish in order to move forwards. In addition to this, we must remain incredibly focused on boosting our productivity. Enhancing the productivity of our economy, our industries and our people is a key priority. Our work should no longer be process-oriented, but rather oriented towards tangible results. I often remind the ministers our work is not only creating and carrying out policies, but also ensuring that the people enjoy public services and development.

Bureaucrats frequently report to me that a certain programme has been carried out, that the budget has been spent and that the accountability report has been completed. When asked, they reply, “The programme has been carried out, Pak.” But when I check in the field or when I ask the people, it emerges that the public has not actually received the benefits of the programme. It turns out that the people have not benefitted from the outcome. Once again, the important aspect is not the process; what is important is the result.

To illustrate the troublesome difference between something that has been committed to and something that has, rather, been delivered, we can make use of a simple illustration. When we send a message through SMS or WhatsApp, there is a “sent” notification and there is a “delivered” notification. For those of us working in the government, our job is to guarantee that whatever programme we are working on has been delivered, not just sent. I do not want a bureaucracy that only sends things. I will ensure that the bureaucracy delivers what it has been mandated to deliver. The job of members of the bureaucracy is to guarantee that the public reaps the benefits of government programmes.

We are proud of all Indonesians, and we truly know that we have immense potential to escape the middle-income trap. Currently, we are at the peak of the demographic curve. We have a young population, and it is one that will continue to grow. We are fortunate in that we have a population of productive-aged people that far outnumbers those of non-productive age. This constitutes a big challenge as well as a great opportunity. This has the potential to become problematic if we are unable to provide the requisite number of jobs. Indonesia stands to benefit greatly if we are able to develop superior human resources, supported by an advantageous political and economic ecosystem.

With this in mind, we have identified five key goals for our second administration.

First: the development of human resources will be our main priority. We are heavily focused on building a workforce that is hard-working, dynamic and skilled, and one that possesses a mastery of science and technology. To accomplish this, we also want to invite talent from around the world to collaborate and work together with us in Indonesia. Achieving this cannot be done through the use of old methods; new methods must be forged and implemented across the country. We need a large endowment fund to manage our human resources, and we must enhance our cooperation with industry and utilise all forms of technology to make it easier to reach every corner of the country.

Second: we will continue infrastructure development and construction. We are working to build infrastructure that better connects production areas to distribution areas, facilitates access to tourist areas and creates more employment, accelerating the added value of the Indonesian economy.

Third: we must simplify, reduce or altogether get rid of forms of obstructive regulation. The government will invite the House of Representatives to pass two major pieces of legislation – the first one being a job creation law and the second being a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) empowerment law. Both of these will be a part of the Omnibus Law: a single law that revises several, even dozens, of other laws. Dozens of laws that hamper job creation will be revised at the same time. There are currently many laws that hamper the development of SMEs, and it is our goal to revise and update them.

Fourth: we will continue our endeavour to significantly simplify the country’s bureaucracy. Investment geared towards creating jobs must be prioritised, and long procedures for businesses must be cut down. Convoluted and outdated bureaucracy must be done away with. We wish for civil service echelons to be simplified. Currently we have four echelons, which is too many. I ask that this be reduced to two levels, replaced with more functional positions that value skill and competence. Additionally, I ask our ministers, officials and bureaucrats to guarantee the achievement of the goals of our development programmes.

Fifth: we are seriously focused on Indonesia’s economic transformation. It is necessary to evolve away from a dependence on natural resources and become an economy that is competitive, service-based and has modern manufacturing capabilities, one that has high added value for the prosperity of the nation and social justice for all Indonesians.

We invite all people of this country to make a commitment to work together for the development of Indonesia: “Pura babbara’ sompekku... Pura tangkisi’ golikku...” (“My sail is flying… my helm is mounted...”) Together, we move towards an advanced Indonesia.

This viewpoint is an abridged version of President Joko Widodo’s inauguration speech from October 20, 2019.

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