President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo vows to stamp down on bureaucratic inefficiency, the main challenge for his vision for Indonesia in 2045. (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Bureaucratic Cuts, Talent Development Imperative for Indonesia 2045: Jokowi


OCTOBER 20, 2019

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has set lofty goals for his second-term presidency, promising to simplify bureaucracy, cut off red tapes and redirect focus on talent development to lay the foundation for transforming Indonesia into a $7-trillion economy at the time the country celebrates its centenary in 2045. 

Jokowi and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin read their inauguration oaths before the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) on Sunday in a live televised event attended by dignitaries from 17 countries. 


The president later took the stage to deliver a speech that for many injected a much-needed optimism for his second term.

"Our dream is that in our centenary in 2045, God willing, Indonesia will leave the middle-income trap. Indonesia will become a developed country with a per capita annual income of Rp 320 million [$22,600]," Jokowi said. 

"Our gross domestic product will reach $7 trillion. We will be one of the top five world economies with poverty close to zero percent," he said. 

Indonesia today is a $1-trillion economy, the largest in Southeast Asia, with a per capita income of Rp 56 million and a rate of absolute poverty of 9.41 percent.  

To achieve the goals, Jokowi has identified five key areas that he will begin to improve in his second term of presidency. 

First, human resource development will become his top priority. The president said the country needs to attract and retain hardworking, dynamic talents who are skilled in science and technology. 

"We need to invite global talents to work with us. That can't be achieved in the old ways [...] we need a large endowment fund to manage our human resources," Jokowi said. 

Second, the president vowed to continue his infrastructure push to connect more economic centers and tourist destinations across Indonesia.

Simpler Law and Bureaucracy

"Third, we must simplify all regulatory constraints. We have to cut them all," Jokowi said. 

The president said he will propose to the House of Representatives two new laws on job creation and empowerment of small and medium enterprises.  

"Each of these laws will become an omnibus law to revise many other previous laws. Dozens of laws that impede job creation will be revised. Laws that are hampering the development of small and medium-sized businesses will be revised too," Jokowi said. 

The president noted that Indonesian bureaucracy has grown so large to become an impediment to efficient business processes, and it's now time to trim them to bare bones. 

"The simplification of bureaucracy must continue in a massive way. Long procedures must be cut short. Byzantine bureaucracy must be cut off," he said. 

Jokowi wants to reduce the current five-structure levels in ministries, known as the echelon system, to just two levels while creating more functional roles that value expertise and competence. 

"I will ask ministers, officials and bureaucrats to guarantee that they achieve the objectives of their development programs. There's no excuse for those who don't. I will fire them," Jokowi said. 

Last, the president said he aims to direct his policies to transform Indonesia's economy, from one that depends on natural resources to one with a competitive manufacturing sector and a modern service sector that gives high added value to the economy.  


Ace Hasan Syadzily, a lawmaker from the Golkar Party, lauded the president's speech for its optimism. 

"We are ahead in terms of economic development compared to many other countries in the world. But we're facing tougher challenges ahead. I'm looking forward to the simplification of our bureaucracy. It has created serious problems for our economy," Ace told BeritaSatu on Sunday. 

Didi Irawadi Samsyuddin, another lawmaker from the Democratic Party, said he was ready to support Jokowi's reform plan. "The spirit is right. Let's see how he will implement them," Didi said. 

Jokowi embarked on his first term with lofty promises of a 7 percent economic growth rate and a laser-eyed focus on infrastructure development that has already cost billions of dollars. But five years later, many of the president's goals have remained unfulfilled. The country's trade deficit persists and a threat of global recession hangs over his development plan.  

The investment climate did improve markedly in the first four years of Jokowi's presidency, with Indonesia making a significant jump in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business ranking.

Yet reform had slowed in the past 12 months. The latest report from the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index placed Indonesia five places lower than last year in 50th place out of 141 countries.

Businesses hope Jokowi would pick up the pace of reform in his second term. 

"We hope unfinished programs can be completed and the government can produce policies that support ease of doing business, so that our economy continues to grow," Carmelita Hartoto, the deputy chairperson for transportation at the Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said in a statement on Sunday.

Observers said the reason why the president had been building a large political coalition by embracing rivaling political parties is to limit any chance of a backlash to his reform agenda. 

"In his first term, Jokowi was known for the catchphrase 'Work, work, work.' In his second term maybe he wants to start to work smart," Raden Pardede, an economist at Creco Consulting, told BeritaSatu on Friday.  

Mardani Ali Sera, a lawmaker from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the only party that has not joined Jokowi's coalition, said he hoped the president could fulfill his promise and warned that the party will remain in opposition.  

"I pray that Mr. Jokowi can keep all his promises. If he delivers on all those promises, he will be remembered as a successful two-term president. PKS will remain an opposition party, one that offers constructive criticism to the government," Mardani said.