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Jokowi urged to reform, not add more ministries

Jakarta Post - March 14, 2019

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – As part of bureaucratic reform efforts, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has urged President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to start "rightsizing" the government to address overlapping functions among state institutions.

According to KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo, streamlining bureaucracy – which may include merging or integrating government agencies with redundant functions – could improve a ministry's performance, public services as well as prevent corrupt practices in the long run.

In his capacity as coordinator of the national graft prevention task force, Agus handed over documents containing the 2019-2020 national strategy for corruption prevention to Jokowi during a ceremony at the State Palace on Wednesday.

Bureaucratic reform was among the three sectors detailed in the strategy, based on Presidential Regulation No. 54/2018, in addition to business permits and commerce, and state finance and law enforcement.

In front of the President and a number of Cabinet ministers, Agus suggested that the government focus on reviewing existing ministries and state institutions instead of establishing new ones.

"If we need to improve the effectiveness of our [bureaucracy], it will be better for us to evaluate existing government agencies and integrating them," he said.

He cited an example in the United States, where after the 9/11 terrorist attack, the government established Homeland Security but without creating a new organization. Instead, the US combined dozens of federal departments and agencies, including immigration, customs and border protection.

Agus' statement appeared as a direct criticism of Jokowi, who is seeking reelection in April, after the President revealed that he had been mulling over the idea to add two new ministerial positions in his Cabinet.

Jokowi said on Monday that he might need two more aides in the Cabinet, namely investment minister and export minister, in a bid to boost exports and attract more investments to the country. Indonesia currently has 34 ministries and 53 state institutions.

Agus explained to reporters on the sidelines of the event that many existing ministries and state institutions had overlapping functions.

For instance, matters related to civil servants were handled by the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister, State Administration Agency (LAN), the National Civil Service Agency (BKN) and the State Civilian Bureaucracy Commission (KASN), he said.

"Why not merge all of them into a unified Personnel Management Ministry, for instance, and the [agency heads] can become deputies [within the ministry]?" Agus said. "Efforts for a rightsizing is necessary."

He further pointed out that it would be easier to assess the performance of state agencies if they had no overlapping functions, a smaller organizational structure and fewer personnel.

"Our goal is to improve [ministries'] effectiveness and provide a better public service," Agus said, adding that with rightsizing, the state could offer its employees a better salary, which could also prevent corrupt practices.

However, he conceded that the challenge in rightsizing was that the country would need to revise many existing laws. "That is a consequence," he said.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/03/14/jokowi-urged-to-reform-not-add-more-ministries.html