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Senior economist Mari Elka tells new ministers to focus on quick wins

Jakarta Post - December 5, 2019

Eisya A. Eloksari, Jakarta – Senior economist Mari Elka Pangestu has said that new ministers in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's Cabinet should aim for "quick wins", especially during their first 100 days in office to show the public their willingness to reform the economy.

"It is important to focus on a few priorities [...] I think there are some quick wins they [the ministers] can achieve, like making export-import procedures faster and more transparent," she said during a discussion in Jakarta on Monday.

She said during her presentation that while many countries implemented tariff regulations in the global trade war era, Indonesia, instead, faced constraints from its own non-tariff barriers.

According to a 2018 survey on business conditions of Japanese companies in Asia and Oceania by the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro), 64.9 percent of Japanese-affiliated companies in Indonesia said the country had implemented non-tariff measures that obstructed business.

The number is the highest in the region, surpassing Myanmar (53.3 percent), Malaysia (46.9 percent) and the Philippines (36 percent).

Most companies stated that import restrictions, such as the import licensing system and import charges, were the most restraining policies, followed by technical regulations and foreign investment regulations.

Mari went on to say that while the issue of imports and exports had become highly politicized, it would not be difficult to reform the sector as it would only require coordination between a small number of ministries.

Reforming imports and exports, she added, was a matter of management as ministries did not need to build infrastructure to reform export-import regulations.

"If they can pick quick wins like that, it shows that they are serious about attracting investment and I think this is what businesses are waiting for," she said.

The former trade minister also said the government needed to be consistent in reforming economic regulations through the omnibus laws. Formulating the laws, while urgent, needed to be done appropriately.

"The idea is to correct inconsistencies in the laws. So, do make sure that when the government formulates them [omnibus laws], more inconsistencies will not be created," she said.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/12/05/senior-economist-mari-elka-tells-new-ministers-to-focus-on-quick-wins.html