Jakarta. Indonesia's undertaking to address regional disparities must be rooted in issues of connectivity, competitiveness and human capital, Australian ambassador said this week, adding that bilateral cooperation in these areas will be intensified.
Speaking at the 2018 Indonesia Development Forum (IDF) in Jakarta on Tuesday (10/07), the ambassador, Gary Quinlan, said his country is committed to supporting Indonesia's economic growth and efforts to tackle inequality.
"Supporting Indonesia to grow its economy and tackle inequality across the country is at the heart of Indonesia-Australia development partnership," he said.
The 2018 IDF is organized by the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) and the Australian government through its Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI).
Drawing from Australia's experience in dealing with regional disparity, Quinlan touched on connectivity, competitiveness and human capital as issues that must be effectively addressed to resolve the main problem at hand.
As Indonesia has been focused on infrastructure development to improve connectivity across its islands, Quinlan said Australia will support it in infrastructure investment.
On competitiveness, the ambassador highlighted how the Indonesia-Australia comprehensive economic partnership agreement (IA-CEPA), which is still under negotiation, can contribute to mutual growth, as it is expected to offer lower tariffs, improve access to suppliers, investors and regional supply chains.
A shared digital future is also going to take part in the bilateral relations.
"We also know that a dynamic digital sector will be critical for the future competitiveness of our economies. We need to act now to seize the opportunities of the digital age," Quinlan said.
Partnerships in Education
The digital aspect is closely linked with the issue of human capital, especially to improve digital literacy among the younger generation and citizens residing in remote areas.
"More needs to be done to improve quality and relevance of teachings, both at the school level and in vocational and technical education and training," Quinlan said.
Through its Official Development Assistance (ODA) program, the Australian government provided $250 million to Indonesia, more than 60 percent of which is for investment in education.
This includes Inovasi, a program which seeks to improve rural schools in East and West Nusa Tenggara and North Kalimantan.
In 2019, Indonesia and Australia will begin a new research partnership centered in Makassar, South Sulawesi. It will strengthen research capabilities, expand research networks focusing on eastern Indonesia and address issues concerning transportation, infrastructure, energy, water and health care.
"We think Indonesia-Australia relations must be able to answer challenges of the times. How can we increase the quality of human capital, through education? We want to make sure our partnership is headed in that direction," National Development Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said on the sidelines of Tuesday's forum.