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|Amid the backdrop of towering buildings at Petamburan, Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, slum dwellers live in squalor along the railway tracks.â€‚(Antara Photo/Yudhi Mahatma)|
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ( RUMGAPRES/ABROR RIZKI)
TAMPAK SIRING, KOMPAS.com - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled on Wednesday to close the three-day national working conference and sign a Presidential Instruction on its results. The national working conference was attended by cabinet ministers, provincial governors, DPRD (regional legislative council) chairmen, state enterprisesâ€™ chairmen, and government institutions, discussing the national economic development, pro-peopleâ€™s programs, fair social development, and meeting the MDGs.
On Monday and Tuesday, the participants were divided into four working groups to discuss the four themes discussed in the working meeting. The heads of the working groups Finance Minister Sri Mulyani for economic development, National Education Minister Muhammad Nuh for pro-people programs, Social Affairs Minister Assegaf Aljufrie for fair justice development, and National Development Planning Minister Armida Alisjahbana for MDGs, briefed the press on the results of the group discussions.
Today, before conclusion, the coordinating ministers will report the results of the discussions of each working group, and the President will later give directives and guidelines and close the working meeting. The President will also inaugurate The 12th Jakarta International Handicraft Trade Fair (Inacraft) at the JCC Assembly Hall by way of teleconference.
In an effort to increase the effectiveness of autonomous local governments, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday called for better coordination between the central and regional governments over the next five years of his term.
â€œThe central government should listen more to the regional governments and vice versa,â€ Yudhoyono said at the close of the three-day government retreat at Tampaksiring Palace in Bali. The Vice president, ministers, governors and members of the private sector were in attendance.
The call for better top-down coordination was a recurring theme throughout the meetingâ€™s four working groups, which included economic development, pro-people programs, welfare distribution and the UNâ€™s Millennium Development Goals.
Hatta Rajasa, the coordinating minister for the economy, said that over the last five years economic growth had been great but the disparity between provinces remained a problem. He said the central government needed to coordinate more with the regional governments for a more even-handed result.
A 2009 second-half report released by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) in March, which studied eight districts after the regional autonomy law was introduced in 1999, suggested that the freedom to govern independently of the central government had failed to better some regions.
In addressing marginalized groups of people and their predicaments, Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al Jufrie said the regional governments had failed to allocate adequate budget resources.
Moreover, Armida S Alisjahbana, head of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) said that although the government has been relatively successful in meeting its Millennium Development Goal targets, disparity of results among regions was apparent.
Yudhoyono said that the governors should refer to the national figures as the benchmark of progress.
â€œIf national economic growth reaches 6.5 percent,â€ provincial governments â€œmust make sure that they also reach that level,â€ he said.
The meeting came up with a coordination protocol in which the central government and the regional governments would work together with a supervising unit led by a collection of ministries, said Agung Laksono, coordinating minister for peopleâ€™s welfare.
Arya Fernandez, an analyst with the consulting firm Charta Politika, said that, ideally, regional autonomy would not hinder the government in achieving its goals of economic development and increasing peopleâ€™s welfare.
He said that the autonomy ends the hierarchical relationship between the central and the regional governments, allowing the latter to create its own on the policy that would support the areaâ€™s progress, â€œas long as [the regional government] shares the same vision with the central government, which is the prosperity of the people.â€
Fernandez added that when it came to formulating and implementing policy, the regional governments often didnâ€™t invite public participation, resulting in policies that left many out.
Moreover, he also said that the head of the local government, which is appointed by the support of a political party, was often trapped by their partyâ€™s stance, limiting the formulation of their own policy.
Jakarta Globe, Wim Tangkilisan, April 15, 2010
There is a recurring theme in the recent speeches of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono before various local audiences, especially when these are made up of bureaucrats or politicians.
Sometimes the theme even floats up in his private conversations, so you can be sure this is not just a rhetorical flourish but an idea that his mind is seized with.
In various ways, he has been saying this: In a democracy the basic purpose of government is to provide the greatest good to the greatest number of people. And that this, too, should be the goal of a party that stands for democracy.
In a democracy, he is careful to stress, the law must be upheld. But at the same time, since the law alone is not enough to sustain a free society, reason must also support the system. Democracy, therefore, needs both the rule of law and the rule of reason.
That means that freedom and governance must be meaningful in peoplesâ€™ lives, especially in the form of basic social services to improve the quality of life.
In Good Company
Yudhoyono is in good company in pursuing this theme of the greatest good for the greatest number. US President John F Kennedy, in his celebrated 1961 inaugural address, intoned: â€œIf a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.â€
To be sure, this message not only comes out of the mouths of political leaders. Every major religion resonates with the sentiment that one must practice charity for the poor.
â€œBlessed are the poor,â€ said Jesus Christ. â€œPoverty is my pride,â€ said the Prophet of Islam. They were not just talking of spiritual humility: both were also social reformers who responded to the physical suffering of the poor.
Governments, of course, are entirely of this world and expect no heavenly reward for the good that they do. But their success or failure is judged on how much good they do for how many people.
Moreover, governments are subject to ethics and are bound by the ethical imperative to do as much good as possible for the people within their constituency.
Where did this ethical imperative come from? It is probably imbedded in human intuition that is the product of evolution and intellectual developments, such as the French Enlightenment and the â€œsocial contractâ€ between the governors and the governed.
The intellectual who said it most eloquently was the 19th century English reformer and moral philosopher Jeremy Bentham. â€œIt is the greatest good to the greatest number,â€ he wrote, â€œthat is the measure of right and wrong.â€
In this light, what makes corruption so obnoxious is that the ill-gotten gains are enjoyed by a very small number of individuals while countless others are deprived of the benefits of what should have been equitably distributed wealth.
Bentham also wrote: â€œThe greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.â€ For that he became widely recognized as the father of â€œutilitarianism,â€ which holds that a man is morally upright in so far as he serves the welfare of many others.
Today Benthamâ€™s embalmed body is kept at University College in London, but his ideas on government are even better preserved in their lasting impact on the credo of public service.
Benthamâ€™s collaborator, James Mill, had a genius of a son who was trained to carry the torch of utilitarianism. John Stuart Mill, became the father of modern theories of liberty, and a case can be made that todayâ€™s advocates of human rights are the intellectual heirs of Jeremy Bentham through John Stuart Mill.
The Big Question
So there is no denying that the idea of the â€œgreatest good for the greatest numberâ€ that Yudhoyono is seized with has an exalted pedigree. Does he practice what he preaches? I think the answer came from the Indonesian electorate themselves, when they rewarded the president with a landslide re-election win.
At the very start of his first term, he adopted an economic policy that was unabashedly pro-business and pro-poor. It was a policy straight from Benthamâ€™s utilitarian heart. And it is now clear not only to the World Bank and the IMF but also to the Indonesian people that the policy not only led to economic growth of over 6 percent but also to a strengthening of the countryâ€™s social safety net.
Perhaps the greatest service Yudhoyono has rendered to the Indonesian people is the successful management of the current global economic and financial crisis.
With growth of about 5 percent last year, Indonesia bore the crisis very well, becoming the third-best performer in Asia, after China and India.
And that growth was obviously equitable because it was consumer-led. It was the handiwork of millions and millions of Indonesians who bought electronic gadgets, household appliances, motorcycles and the like, many of them helped along by microcredits and microfinancing.
Sharing the Vision
Today the president envisions reducing the number of Indonesians living below the poverty line from some 20 million to 16 million by the end of the year. He is doing that by directing Rp 37 trillion ($4.1 billion) to welfare and social programs.
He has also programmed 14.3 percent of the budget â€œto protect the lowest segments of society.â€
These programs are supposed to directly benefit the poor, but more than that, a well-rationalized budget for overall development benefits everyone. This means sufficient resources devoted to education, infrastructure and power generation. It also means the rationalization of the mining sector and the labor sector and a further push for investment incentives.
And when that necessary budget is there and wiser laws are finally in place, let us hope that there will be effective and efficient execution and policy implementation. Let us hope that corruption will be eradicated or at least drastically reduced.
And let us also hope that the presidentâ€™s message that government must be directed at providing the greatest good for the greatest number will be taken to heart. It has been handed to us as a spiritual and intellectual legacy that can guide Indonesia to greatness.
The president cannot do it all alone. Others, not just his cabinet or his party, but all those in public service and politics, must heed the call.
It would be a tragedy for Indonesia if the presidentâ€™s call for genuine service to the â€œgreatest numberâ€ of our people became a voice crying in the wilderness.
Wim Tangkilisan is president and editor in chief of the Jakarta Globe.
Erwida Maulia, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 04/06/2010 7:50 PM
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has assigned Vice President Boediono to attend a key nuclear security meeting in Washington next week.
Presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal said Boediono would represent the head of state in the Nuclear Security Summit (NCC), hosted by US President Barack Obama in Washington DC on Apr. 12-13.
â€œThe Vice President will have as his delegation members at the NCC the foreign affairs minister, energy and mineral resources minister, and me,â€ Dino said.
He added that Boediono would also represent the President in the roundtable discussion on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) goals number four and five on health hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Apr. 14.
ESCAP, ADB and UNDP joint Report calls for strengthening social protection
MANILA (UN ESCAP Information Services) â€“ A joint report by the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warns that the global economic crisis could trap an additional 21 million people in the Asia-Pacific region in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.25 a day.
Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in an Era of Global Uncertainty: Asia-Pacific Regional Report 2009/10, launched today in Manila, examines the toll that the global economic crisis has taken on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Asia-Pacific region. Produced by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), ADB and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the report identifies opportunities for action â€“ showing how countries of Asia and the Pacific can better protect themselves from this and future crises.
â€œThis report shows that, while we are at a moment of crisis for the MDGs we also have an opportunity,â€ says Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP at the report launch. â€œAs this crisis has exposed many vulnerabilities in the region â€“ we can now address them and direct this recovery towards a stronger sustainable development path for the Asia-Pacific region.â€
"Most stimulus measures have focused on areas other than social expenditures," says Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, ADB Vice President. "If we are to address the human impacts of the economic slowdown and achieve the MDGs, then social spending needs to be stepped up substantially."
"Asia has much weaker social protection compared to other regions such as Latin America and Eastern Europe,â€ says Ajay Chhibber, UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific and UN Assistant Secretary-General. â€œWithout better protection people fall back into poverty with economic crisis, health pandemics and natural disasters and cannot recover easily, making the achievement of MDGs more difficult."
The report notes that long-term social protection can actually strengthen Asiaâ€™s resilience against future shocks. Yet the report finds that across the region, only 20 per cent of the unemployed and underemployed have access to labour market programmes such as unemployment benefits, and only 30 per cent of older people receive pensions.
If fiscal stimulus packages have a strong component of social expenditures, notes the report, this is likely to produce a double dividend â€“ not only boosting growth more rapidly but also accelerating progress towards the MDGs.
Prior to the economic crisis, the region as a whole had been making notable gains, including being on track to achieve three important targets: gender parity in secondary education, ensuring universal access of children to primary school, and halving the proportion of people living below the $1.25-a-day poverty line. However, the economic crisis undermined the momentum.
Asia and the Pacific is still the home to the largest number â€“ more than 50 per cent â€“ of people, both rural and urban, without basic sanitation, of under-5 children who are underweight, of people infected with TB, of people living on less than $1.25 a day, and of rural people without access to clean water, according to the report.
It notes that in 2009 the crisis trapped up to an additional 17 million people in extreme poverty, and in 2010, another 4 million, giving a total of 21 million or roughly the equivalent to the population of Australia.
The most adversely affected segment of the population is women, who constitute the majority of Asiaâ€™s low-skilled, low-salaried, and temporary workforce that can easily be laid off during economic downturns. Moreover the crisis has reduced the demand for migrant labour â€“ and women form nearly two-thirds of the total Asian migrant population.
The report points to opportunities for the region to protect itself and the MDG progress from future crisis though regional cooperation. Regional cooperation would also be particularly valuable for the trade in food, and could include grain banks that are maintained in each country but readily accessible to others, notes the report.
Expanding Asian monetary and financial coordination would be particularly useful to reduce external shocks such as with the global financial crisis. While fiscal stimulus is the most practical way of filling the gap left by declining exports, in the medium and long term, countries will need to generate domestic demand in a more sustainable way.
Countries can consider diversifying their export markets to become less dependent on demand in the West, suggests the report. They can boost trade within the region by liberalizing trade regimes and improving transport links, simplifying customs and inspection procedures.
By lowering trade barriers and creating more opportunity for the Asia-Pacific region to invest within itself, there can be a greater insulation against such crisis in the future.
Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in an Era of Global Uncertainty: Asia-Pacific Regional Report 2009/10 is the fourth regional MDG report for Asia and the Pacific produced by the three agencies.
For more information please go to: http://www.mdgasiapacific.org/.
Antara News, Tuesday, January 19, 2010 19:34 WIB
Madiun, E Java (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has instructed district heads across the country to do their utmost in lowering the unemployment and poverty rates in their respective regions.
The president said district heads should also try to improve education and health services, speed up infrastructure development and bureaucratic reform, to prevent corruption practices, and improve the quality of public services in general.
President Yudhoyono issued the instruction at the opening of the 6th national conference of the All-Indonesia Association of District Administrations (Apkasi) in Madiun, East Java, on Tuesday.
Yudhoyono said district heads should carry out his instruction and later reported the results to him.
"When I come again you should report the results to me," the president said.
The head of state also welcomed a declaration made by the district heads to build clean and accountable governance, to make bureaucratic reform, implement regional autonomy in the framework of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI), pursue the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and help save the earth from global warming.
"But in the next five years it should not remain a declaration only. Instead, you have to seriously implement what you have declared," the president said.
Themed "Increasing the Quality of Regional Authorities by Quality Development Efforts" the conference was attended by around 399 district heads from across the country.
Meanwhile, Apkasi chairman Sujono said the primary objective of Apkasi`s 6th national conference this time was to discuss efforts to increase regional autonomy which have so far not been made optimally.
Sujono said many district heads were still facing various obstacles in implementing regional autonomy because they were unable to make their own policies to serve the people`s interests.
Sujono said many district heads were still facing various obstacles in implementing regional autonomy because they were unable to make their own policies to serve the people`s interests.
According to Sujono, who is the Pacitan district head, if the authority of district administrations was increased, all district heads would be able to work better and more optimally.
"With full authority under the regional autonomy system, district heads will be better motivated to develop their respective regions," said the Apkasi chairman.