Sunday, May 24, 2009 11:12 AM
The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Fri, 05/22/2009 11:52 AM | Headlines
Projecting growth: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addresses a presidential election debate organized by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce in Jakarta on Wednesday. Yudhoyono promised average economic growth of 7 percent between 2009 and 2014. JP/NurhayatiProjecting growth: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addresses a presidential election debate organized by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce in Jakarta on Wednesday. Yudhoyono promised average economic growth of 7 percent between 2009 and 2014. JP/Nurhayati
Incumbent presidential candidate Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono asserted Wednesday his work in developing the economy was not based on empty promises but on concrete actions which had already benefited the business community.
Higher economic growth, improved competitiveness, and a cut in red tape for business startups were among the concrete measures cited by Yudhoyono before businesspeople in a dialogue organized by the influential Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).
The dialogue was the second round after the first one featured Yudhoyono's presidential rival Vice President Jusuf Kalla. Presidential candidate Megawati Soekarnoputri is scheduled for her turn Friday.
During the dialogue, Yudhoyono pledged to boost economic growth to 7 percent by 2014 if elected for a second term. The figure is considered more conservative than the 8 percent per year promised by Kalla and the 10 percent annually by Megawati.
“The target is actually more realistic due to the current global economic crisis,” Yudhoyono said, adding the country would remain preoccupied in dealing with the crisis during the next two years.
The former general promised that he would accelerate reform of the bureaucracy which was a prerequisite for the achievement of higher economic growth.
However reform of the bureaucracy was already promised by President Yudhoyono in his 2004 campaign and little was actually done.
Despite installing his close aide Taufiq Effendi as minister for state for administrative reform, any overhaul of the bureaucracy remained a tough nut to crack due to stiff underlying opposition by civil servants and lack of coordination between Yudhoyono and other ministers engaged in reform attempts.
Yudhoyono's also shortfalls included his failure to unwind overlapping regulations which regularly derailed investor plans to engage with the country. “Reform of the bureaucracy is a priority. So is fixing the problem of overlapping regulations,” said Yudhoyono, whose Democratic Party and allies now dominate the House of Representatives.
He also pledged to continue his unfinished task of rooting out causes of a high-cost economy, including illegal fees collected by authorities.
So far, the administration has been successful in turning the once corruption-infested tax office and custom office into highly regarded corruption-free institutions providing satisfactory public services.
Kadin vice president Soeharsojo, however, underlined that if Yudho-yono was re-elected, he would have to work extra hard in trying to implement economic policies in the field rather than spending too much time just at the policy and planning level.
Yudhoyono, he said, should also improve his coordination with local administrations to help avoid unnecessary glitches for businesses.
“For example, the central government subsidized apartment program has been faced with numerous difficulties. The local administrations suddenly banned the program due to permit problems. This is bad,” Soeharsojo said.
He suggested Yudhoyono should also focus on developing infrastructure and the housing sector in the short-term to help jump-start the local economy at a time when overseas demand had slowed during the the crisis. (naf)