Remarks of President of the Republic of Indonesia at the 7th Anniversary of Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), Ballroom of Djakarta Theater Building, Central Jakarta, 22 December 2021
Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
May prosperity be upon us,
Greetings of virtue.
Distinguished Minister of State Secretary, Vice Minister of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning,
Distinguished Vice Chairperson of Honorary Council of PSI Sis Grace Natalie, Secretary of Honorary Council of PSI Bro Raja Juli Antoni,
Distinguished Chairperson of PSI Bro Giring Ganesha, General Secretary of PSI, regional board members and local board members of PSI across the country, members and sympathizers of PSI,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Bro Giring has delivered an excellent speech, so has Sis Grace Natalie. I am 60 years old and now I am standing before a young generation. Thus, there is indeed a generation gap. We have to admit that the young generation is quick to respond to changes and adapts quickly to changes.
We are now facing a very tough situation at the global and the national level. Uncertainty due to the pandemic, difficulties faced by country leaders due to the pandemic, and unprecedented complicated problems have emerged. Our policies can change every day because the pandemic situation also keeps changing. The virus has mutated from the previous variant to Delta variant, and from Delta variant to Omicron variant. It has led to uncertainty at the global and the national level.
In the past, we only thought about solving the pandemic and preventing the spread of COVID-19. In fact, the problem has spilled over to various sectors, including economic sector. This is not only related to economic growth, but also related to other issues: container shortage, unexpected spike in inflation, sudden increase in producer prices, sudden increase in food prices, food crises in several countries, and energy crises in several countries.
When we had a dialogue at the G20, everyone asked each other questions and all of us had difficulties in answering the problems. Many came to us and consulted us because we assumed the G20 Presidency.
Regarding the pandemic, the situation at the peak of the pandemic in our country, in mid-July, July 15, was tremendously discouraging. Many people who needed an access to ICU rooms or patient wards lay down at hospital corridors. We did not have enough oxygen and medicine and the hospitals suffered from overcapacity, especially in the islands of Java and Bali.
At that time, the number of daily cases stood at 56,000. We should be grateful that yesterday we had 216 cases, from 56,000 dropped to 216. And today there are only five countries with level 1 status. The status is determined by WHO and the United States’ CDC.
Many people have been asking: what is the key? We have plenty of answers. It is not the work of one, two, or three people. In fact, it is mutual cooperation and everyone makes their best effort. You cannot say that it is the success of the President. All communities and stakeholders, from the top level to health workers at community health centers will continue to make the best efforts. While other countries have hospitals, we have 10,000 community health centers across the country.
To date, we are not a vaccine producer. Other countries find it difficult to buy vaccines. We have so far injected 263 million doses. Many other countries have been asking: where do we get the vaccines?
As soon as the pandemic broke out, I received many insights stating that vaccine is the key. I immediately ordered cabinet ministers to find and buy the vaccine. In African countries, the average vaccination rate is three percent. Why did the Omicron emerge? Because the vaccination rate remains very low. Our first dose vaccination rate has reached 73 percent and our second dose vaccination rate has reached 51 percent. A million children of 6 to 11 years old have got vaccinated, just in a few days after we started vaccine rollout for children. It is not an individual work. Everyone makes their best efforts, including PSI.
Let us look back at the pre-pandemic situation. Some people questioned the infrastructure that we build, including toll roads, seaports, and airports. Many questioned the feasibility of the infrastructure.
We aim to compete with other countries. We aim to build a civilization. We aim to boost our economic growth, increase our competitiveness, and, most importantly, provide the widest possible employment opportunities.
If we did not have a strong foundation, we would not achieve anything. Regardless of the insults that I get, I will continue to work on this, as previously stated by Bro Giring and Sis Grace Natalie. We will not get the benefits directly today, but if we did not build this foundation, it was impossible for us to compete with other countries and we must forget about competition. For me, roads mean prosperity. Without roads, there would be no prosperity. Infrastructure means prosperity. Without the infrastructure, we would not achieve prosperity.
We are not only building large infrastructures, but also small infrastructure, including village roads. As of today, we have transferred Rp 400.1 trillion to villages in the last five years to build village roads, dams, irrigation, small bridges in villages, village markets, and to develop village-owned enterprises (BUMDes). We build all infrastructure, including small infrastructure, clean water in villages, and health community posts.
Take village roads for example. In five years, how many kilometers have we built? We have built 227,000 kilometers of roads. I think that is a small number compared to 74,900 villages that we have. The number equals 3 kilometers per village. We also built 4,500 dams in villages. If we divide 4,500 by 74,900, it is a small number.
The infrastructure will support our economy, especially rural economy. We provide a lot of funding for small infrastructures, amounting to Rp 400 trillion. Therefore, I applaud measures taken by PSI in scrutinizing regional budgets. We must scrutinize every penny of the budgets, be it Rp 1 million, Rp 2 million, Rp 5 million, Rp 10 million, 1 billion, or 1 trillion. We must scrutinize the budgets to ensure that they are well targeted.
My experience as a mayor, a governor, and a President has taught me that if we do not use the regional budgets and the State Budget properly, the budget will not be transformed into something useful. Regional leaders must have the courage to use the budget properly and to deal with local parliaments to ensure that the budget is well targeted. If you want to build a market, allocate the lion’s share of the budget for it.
Once we ensure that the budget is well targeted – maybe not 100 percent, let’s say 60-70 percent – we will achieve more. For example, this year we build clean markets. Next year we will build schools. The following year we will build roads in villages. It will be easier for us to control the budget. Why should we split the budget into thousands of items, 40,000 or 50,000 of items? That will make the budget allocation more difficult to control. If we want to control the budget, we must focus on one, two, or three important programs.
Second, our country will make a significant leap if we have the courage to industrialize and downstream our natural resources. For decades, we have always exported our raw material and we must stop it. We have discontinued nickel exports. Next year we will stop exporting bauxite. After bauxite, we will stop exporting copper. After copper, we will stop exporting tin.
We have added values in our country. We have added values, prices, and jobs in our country. However, we must deal with developed countries as the recipients of our exports. They protest against us. The nickel case has been brought to the WTO. It is all right, we will face it.
During the G20 meeting, sixteen countries agreed to sign an agreement on global supply chains. After reading the agreement, however, I found that the agreement has something to do with the export of raw materials. I did not sign it and the agreement was revoked. Because we did not sign it, the agreement was revoked.
At times, there is concern that our courage will get us banned here and there or make us lose at the WTO. It is all right. If we do not have the courage to try, when will we do the downstreaming, and stop raw material export? If we do not try, we will always be an exporter of raw materials. If we produce finished goods, it will generate ten times of added values. Nickel, for example, can result in many products. Nickel and copper can become lithium batteries, lithium ion, lithium for electric car batteries, sodium-ion, and many other products.
Regarding nickel, we used to have a trade deficit with China. I have learned that in the last three years the value of our exports has increased significantly, almost 280 trillion. Next year it is possible that we will have no trade deficit with China. Instead, we will record a surplus.
That is because of the nickel. If we stop exporting bauxite, exporting copper, exporting tin, exporting gold, and other raw material exports, we will get more. I fervently believe that if we do this until 2023 and 2024, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2030 will triple, meaning that our income per capita will be between US$11,000 to US$15,000. Some people say that (the GDP) will be about US$20,000 to US$21,000. I tend to choose a conservative calculation. If (our GDP) can increase significantly to US$20,000, thank God. That achievement requires our courage.
Sometimes we are limited by our own fear. When we started the process to take over Freeport, I received discouraging information. They said there would be instability in Papua, Papua would be separated (from Indonesia) and the United States would complain. We have been working on this for three years and the Minister did not have the courage to make a decision. I ordered the Minister to complete the process. It is a fact that Freeport had existed for 41 years. It turned out that nothing bad happened. We also bought (the shares) without using our money. We use their money. We bought Freeport without any funding from the State Budget or from state-owned enterprises. In three years, we will have more than US$5 billion. Next year, if we want to sell it again, we will have a big profit. However, we will not do that because we already own the majority of the share, and we can get our policy done. In the past, we failed to build smelter for decades. Now, we control 51 percent (of the company share). After I ordered smelter construction in Gresik, the construction started right away because now we are the owner of the company.
Now, I will talk about global uncertainty. Global uncertainty and the high complexity of the problems have changed everything: economy, economic landscapes, political landscapes, global landscapes, and national landscapes. We must be aware of it. We must also be aware that a recent study shows that in 2024, 52 percent of voters will be young generation, which is the target market of PSI. We must really master the use of technology to accommodate political aspiration at the grassroots level. We must have a platform. Technology will help political parties in playing their roles for the interests of the people. Until now, I have not seen this kind of platform that is massively accessible to the public. We must think about technology to build new organizational models and to build organizations based on platforms and applications. We must challenge ourselves to carry out digital transformation.
The way I see it, PSI, as a political party, has a great opportunity to create innovation in the digital sector, including by creating democratic ecosystem in Indonesia that is more compatible with today’s demands and changes that I mentioned earlier. The aim is to make Indonesia a winning nation in the world replete with disruption and hyper-competition and to advance our country.
That concludes my remarks on this auspicious occasion. Finally, I wish a happy 7th anniversary for the Indonesian Solidarity Party.
After listening to the speech of Sis Grace and Bro Giring, I am optimistic that PSI will become a big party that will make a difference and with a good brand image for the young generation. And if it has platform and application that can be accessed at the grassroot level, it will make a significant leap.
That concludes my remarks on this auspicious occasion.
And finally, I will show you (a video) about the new capital city. Do not look at the physical infrastructure per se because we will move there to change our mindset, to change the way we work, to change the way the bureaucracy works and to make it more efficient and better.
I thank you.
That concludes my remarks.
Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.