How a country spends its revenue today will determine how its future will unfold. If we invest today in education, infrastructure, defense and research and development, we will lay the foundations for continued and sustained economic and social development.
To this end, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s budget for 2013 will help lay the ground work for a brighter future. The government has proposed increasing spending on education by $2.2 billion to $35 billion in 2013, making the Education Ministry the top recipient of state funds next year. This must be well-spent to make a difference in improving the quality of the education system.
The other ministries the president has targeted for budget increases include the Defense Ministry, Public Works Ministry, Transportation Ministry, Health Ministry and Religious Affairs Ministry.
In announcing the budget, Yudhoyono also outlined some key priorities: increasing capital spending on infrastructure development; completing bureaucratic reforms; better managing energy consumption and preparing for the 2014 general elections.
The president and the government are on the right track. Education and infrastructure are key factors that will help the nation compete on the global stage. We need a population that is highly educated, technically skilled and able to think critically to compete with other fast-emerging economies.
Having an excellent workforce is just one half of the equation, though. The other is having connectivity and needed infrastructure to support growth. We cannot develop cutting-edge technologies if we cannot ensure consistent power supplies. We cannot grow our trade if our seaports and airports are inefficient and unable to ship what we produce.
We can take heart from the fact that the government has set its spending priorities well. Setting the right priorities is critical.