Indonesia president pledges more infrastructure, investment in second term

BOGOR, Indonesia:  Indonesia’s recently re-elected President Joko Widodo on Sunday outlined his vision for a second term, pledging faster infrastructure development and more investment opportunities to create jobs and growth in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

Hampered by soft commodity prices, Indonesia has struggled to lift growth above 5% in recent years even amid a boom in infrastructure building aimed at unlocking bottlenecks and distributing wealth outside the populous island of Java.

In a rally attended by thousands of supporters, Widodo said infrastructure development – a key agenda in his first term – would be accelerated to connect ports and airports across the archipelago to agricultural and tourism centres.

He also emphasised plans to improve human resources in a country that is lagging some of its neighbours in developing a skilled workforce.

This would include investing in vocational schools and creating an institution to manage Indonesian talent, as well as tapping the skills of those who settled overseas, he said.

Widodo also promised to open up investment opportunities in a country where red tape and vested interests remain a potent force discouraging foreign capital.

“Don’t be allergic to investment. It will create as much employment as possible,” he said.

Despite improvements in Indonesia’s ranking on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, Widodo has conceded there remain too many obstacles to starting a business.

In May, Widodo said his government had cut to 58 from 259 the number of permits required for power plant investment, but he wants the figure cut to five.

To achieve that, he promised to reform the country’s unwieldy bureaucracy.

“Speed of service, speed of giving out permits, are the keys to bureaucratic reform,” Widodo said.

“When I see there is an inefficiency or lack of effectiveness, I will remove it, fire the official,” he said, to roars of approval from the crowd, adding he would disband institutions that were not useful.

Andreas Sustiono, a 48-year old from a town near Jakarta, who was attending the rally, said it was exhausting dealing with Indonesia’s red tape.

On Sunday, Widodo, also called for unity among Indonesians following a bruising election that saw some of the worst outbreaks of civil unrest in the capital for decades.

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court last month confirmed the victory of Widodo in April’s election, rejecting claims of widespread cheating by his challenger.

On Saturday, Widodo met his challenger Prabowo Subianto for the first time in public since his re-election during which the retired general congratulated the president and also called for unity.

“The responsibilities borne by the president are great. For the sake of the people, we are ready to help when needed,” Prabowo told reporters.

Source from: The Peninsula