Yudhoyono Invites Jakarta Leaders for ‘Instruction’
Lenny Tristia Tambun & Arientha Primanita
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo and Vice Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama to visit the palace to brief them on ways to manage the capital, the governor said following a prayer gathering.
“Two weeks from now we will go to the palace at the president’s invitation in order to receive instructions,” Joko said on Friday.
The president usually does not give such special attention to newly appointed governors, so his plan to invite Joko drew speculation from various circles. Some observers have even suggested that Joko could be a potential candidate for presidential election in 2014.
Saleh P. Daulay, chairman of the youth wing of Muhammadiyah, said that the next president should be “a leader like Joko” who not only represents the younger generation but is humble, down to earth in style, and has great passion for public service.
Ever since being sworn in on Oct. 15, Joko has been visiting densely populated subdistricts of Jakarta.
He has given city officials six months to tidy up their respective departments and to uphold the civil service code of conduct following his inspections in several areas where he was disappointed to find empty rooms during office hours.
Another thing Jokowi and Basuki have done is conducting a thorough study of the capital’s budget plan. They found that there are too many cost centers — otherwise known as spending slots — in the 18 departments that constitute the municipal government.
The governor has issued instructions to reduce spending in every department only to four major allocations in order to simplify controlling and accountability procedures.
Joko said every municipal department must have a focus and a priority project focused on better public service. That is better than financing too many activities that do not directly benefit public interest, he said.
Joko said he believes that by doing so he will be able to promote budget efficiency and reduce the possibility of manipulation.
This is a completely different take on the budget compared to the term of his predecessor, Fauzi Bowo.
Under Fauzi, the city’s budget was comprised of 57,000 spending allocations, making it impossible to determine the effectiveness of state financing.
Such a set-up is a major mistake, Joko has said, vowing to correct the problem. He recently called in the chiefs of four municipal departments and listened to their presentations. He almost immediately concluded that such planning was a waste of state funds because apart from lacking focus there were no priority projects in every department.
“I want every department to focus on one priority project. It is better to do a few big things than a thousand small things that cannot be controlled,” the governor said.
Some observers are asking if Joko has the ability to alter the sluggish and unresponsive bureaucracy and implement good governance practices in corrupt municipal departments.
He is on the right track to achieve his goal, some observers say, but the road ahead is guaranteed to be bumpy.
Already Gamawan Fauzi, the minister of home affairs, has cautioned that as Jakarta’s governor, Joko “must remain consistent with the city’s budget plan” otherwise he will risk being seen as breaking the budget-plan ordinances that have been approved by the provincial legislative council.
The minister’s warning hints that Joko’s intention to reorganize the budget could be seen by the provincial legislative council as violating the Perda, or city ordinance, on budget plans, and could cause political trouble for the governor later on.
“I do respect the governor’s practice of going down to the densely populated areas and fixing problems right there,” Gamawan said.
“But I need to say this as a reminder, though not to criticize Joko, that bureaucracy is an established system that works systematically. In planning one must set clear targets, define budget allocations and set up an evaluation system based on the Perda on annual financing.”
The minister emphasized that there were long-term funding plans for the city.
“If we want to do something in 2013, we must plan for it in 2012. We cannot all of a sudden make abrupt changes [by reallocating the budget] here or there,” Gamawan said.
“All components of the municipal government must obey the Perda on budget allocations. Too many deviations would lead to violations of the rules.”
The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), both of which propelled Joko and Basuki to their current positions, only have 19 legislators combined in the 94-member provincial legislative council, making their political position precarious.
Joko and Basuki now have a new fight on their hands as they try to convince the legislative council of their good intentions in tidying up the municipal administration without violating the Perda on budget.