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President Jokowi tells regional administrations to fall in line with central government

Jakarta Post - May 7, 2024

Dio Suhenda, Jakarta – In a speech on Monday at the National Development Planning Conference (Musrenbangnas), outgoing President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo once again called on regional administrations to fall in line with the central government's policies and priorities.

During the event in Jakarta, Jokowi slammed the lack of coordination between the central government and regional administrations, saying that it had led to big-budget infrastructure projects failing to give optimal returns to the nation's economy.Musrenbangnas is an annual event attended by central government ministries and institutions as well as regional administrations and is where the government hashes out the next year's work plan (RKP).

"We already have long-term, medium-term and annual development plans. [Each of you] also has a work plan. But [these plans] are not yet in sync," Jokowi said.

Without specifying any particular regions, Jokowi said some dams and toll roads that the government had paid for were not being utilized properly because regional administrations had failed to build irrigation channels and smaller roads that should have connected the infrastructure to local communities.

He also said there were instances in which regional administrations, upon getting a bump in their regional budgets, had allocated the funds haphazardly, rather than channeling them toward projects that were in line with the government's priorities.

"This is something we all need to think about together, so that [the infrastructure] that has been built can really be productive, because people certainly need them," Jokowi said.

To this end, he called on Musrenbangnas to serve as the forum to align regency and city work plans with the national development agenda, adding that the plans must be "results-oriented" and "on-target and strategic".

Future challenges

Jokowi has a little more than five months left in office before he will be succeeded by Defense Minister and Gerindra Party chief Prabowo Subianto, who won the February presidential election on a platform that hinged on continuing many of Jokowi's policies.

Prabowo's presidential bid, however, was embroiled in controversy when Jokowi's eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, was named his running mate after an eleventh hour change in candidacy requirements. His landslide victory was also contested by his two rivals, who alleged that it had come on the back of electoral interference from the Jokowi administration.

But last month, the Constitutional Court upheld Prabowo's win, rejecting the claims by his rivals that Jokowi had used state resources, including social aid, to sway voters in favor of the Prabowo-Gibran ticket as part of an attempt to maintain his grip on power after leaving office.

The rulings removed the last major barrier for Jokowi to pass the baton to his successor in October.

On Monday, Jokowi asked regional leaders at the Musrenbangnas to focus on the challenges facing the incoming government.

"[We] are facing a difficult situation and difficult challenges ahead. The global economy is expected to grow by only 3.2 percent, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still felt today, and we know that some countries are entering a recession," Jokowi said.

"That's why [we] must be careful and prudent in managing our fiscal affairs and budgets. Don't let even a single rupiah be misplaced from the plans and scales of priority we have put in place," he added.

Growth and hiccups

Speaking at Musrenbangnas, National Development Planning Minister Suharso Monoarfa praised Jokowi for his achievements as President over the past 10 years, including stable economic growth, reduction in the poverty rate and improvements in the national human development index.

Suharso said the government's 2025 work plan was geared toward ensuring the same type of development, including "several agendas" related to presidential-elect Prabowo's programs.

"[Efforts to] integrate the presidential-elect's programs will continue to happen until the government finalizes its 2025 work plan," Suharso said.

But the Jokowi administration has also fallen short in some aspects, particularly when it comes to ushering in investment as a way to ensure more equitable economic growth in the country.

In last year's Musrenbangnas, for instance, the government bemoaned the fact that bureaucratic hurdles remained the number one obstacle to investment despite the enactment of the Job Creation Law, which had been touted by the Jokowi administration as a key piece of legislation to streamline investment.

Human rights activists have also slammed the frequent use of state repression to stamp out resistance to Jokowi's national strategic projects, often the entry point for big-budget foreign investors to set up businesses in the country.

Source: https://asianews.network/president-jokowi-tells-regional-administrations-to-fall-in-line-with-central-government