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Indonesia's president-elect to streamline Cabinet

Publication Date : 19-08-2014

 

With an eye toward running an effective government to implement his populist vision, Indonesian president-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has come up with a plan to streamline the Cabinet.

Under the plan, Jokowi would reduce the number of ministries, which currently stands at 34, to 27 by merging several of them, as well as by adding some new “specific” posts, said Andi Widjajanto, a deputy of the Jokowi- Jusuf Kalla transition team in charge of the issue.

“The plan is one of a few options we have for the design of the future Cabinet. We in the transition team see that this option is best suited for the vision and mission Pak Jokowi and Pak JK [Kalla] compiled in the Nawacita,” Andi said at the transition team headquarters in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Monday.

Nawacita, a Sanskrit term meaning “nine programs”, is the list of programs that Jokowi and Kalla will focus on in the next five years, comprising, among others, empowering agriculture and fisheries, revitalizing traditional markets, rejuvenating the creative economy and improving access for quality education and health services.

According to Andi, some of the ministries that would be merged included the ministries of trade and industry.

The merger plan would also merge similar sectors in a single ministry, like agriculture, fishery, farming and plantation, which would all be handled by a ministry of food security.

Also included is a plan to merge all existing ministerial research and development divisions into one ministry of research and technology.

The research and technology ministry, Andi said, would be one of two ministries that would focus on education, with the other handling basic secondary education, which would also manage character-building and culture.

To realise the pledge about focusing on the maritime sector, Jokowi is also expected to set up a maritime ministry tasked to develop maritime infrastructure, which has been billed as the “sea toll road”. It would provide regular freight ships to serve cities from east to west.

Under the Nawacita, the Jokowi-Kalla administration aims to construct 10 ports to connect the islands of the archipelago.

In addition to streamlining the Cabinet, the transition team also proposed the reorganisation of the bureaucracy by rotating civil servants to occupy new posts according to their competence, as well as by preparing severance payments for those who failed to upgrade their skills.

“We have calculated that the operational funds [for dismissing civil servants] will cost hundreds of billions of rupiah, but we can save up to 3 trillion rupiah (US$256.70 million),” Andi said.

However, the transition team has also come up with what it called the option of the “status quo”, by which they could maintain all existing 34 ministries.

The transition team is expected to wrap up its work to redesign of Jokowi’s Cabinet by Aug. 25 so it can be used by Jokowi as a blueprint and guide by the end of September.

The plan to reduce the size of the Cabinet has apparently stirred debate particularly among political parties, that supported the Jokowi-Kalla ticket in the July 9 presidential election.

Jokowi has repeatedly said that his administration would welcome party politicians under the condition that they would leave their parties in order to focus on working for the government, a condition that has raised eyebrows among critics.

National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar, who is also the current manpower minister, claimed that his position as a party chairman never compromised his job as minister.

“I could work full time as a minister even though I am the chairman of the party. I only gave speeches for PKB and then went home,” Muhaimin said last week.

 

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