Ichsan Ali, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo swiftly addressed the accusations made by presidential candidate Anies Baswedan regarding the ongoing project to relocate the national capital to East Kalimantan, saying that it aims to create economic equality.
During his visit to East Jakarta, Jokowi said the primary objective behind relocating the capital is to ensure equitable growth distribution throughout the country.
"Java island contributes to 58 percent of our GDP, despite Indonesia comprising more than 17,000 islands. Our aim is to decentralize economic growth from Java to become more inclusive across Indonesia," stated Jokowi. "We seek to establish new centers of growth outside Java."
The president admitted that he can't expect instant results from the capital relocation, arguing that efforts to promote more balanced economic welfare and population distribution will take years to manifest tangible impacts.
"Our focus is on creating more equitable economic progress and dispersing population centers, which remains a long-term program," he said.
However, the president said that he can take criticisms gracefully, saying the constitution grants the freedom of speech. He added that the capital relocation project has secured approval from the House of Representatives.
His response follows Anies' recent comments during a public discussion at Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta, where Anies criticized the construction of the new capital.
"To achieve equal development, we must develop smaller cities into medium-sized and then into larger cities – not by establishing a new city in the midst of a jungle, as it will only generate new disparities," Anies said.
The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), a member of the three-party coalition backing Anies' presidential aspirations, has publicly voiced opposition to the capital relocation.
PKS Chairman Ahmad Syaikhu said the party will retain Jakarta as the national capital if they win the 2024 elections.
The Jokowi administration aims to officially move the national capital to Nusantara in East Kalimantan during next year's Independence Day celebration.