Remarks of President of the Republic of Indonesia at the Opening of the 2022 National Gathering of the Association of Indonesian Village Governments (APDESI) at Istora Senayan, Special Capital Region of Jakarta, March 29, 2022
Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
May peace be upon us all
Greetings of virtue.
Distinguished leaders and members of the Regional Representative Council of the Republic of Indonesia in attendance,
Distinguished Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment and ministers in attendance,
Distinguished Chairperson of Central Management Board of the Association of Indonesian Village Governments (APDESI) Bapak Surta Wijaya and all members of APDESI management, the Board of Supervisors, Organization Advisory Board, and all members of APDESI regional and branch management,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Last time, it was mentioned about the Founding Figure of Village Development. You deserve that title, not me, because all of you are the ones who develop villages, who work hard to build your villages. I am a part of the policymakers. That is it. So, you are the founding figures of the development.
With regard to COVID-19, let me inform you the development of COVID-19 as of today. Let us go back to the time when [the cases of] Omicron variant were at its peak. Back then, we had 56,000 Delta [variant cases], then the number declined and it was gone. It was replaced by Omicron. There were 64,000 Omicron [cases] at its peak in mid-February.
I called this afternoon. How many? Yesterday afternoon, there were 2,700 [cases]. Thank God, it dropped from 64,700 to 2,700 [cases] thanks to the hard work of all of you in disseminating information to the public, in encouraging people to get vaccinated, to wear masks, to maintain distance, to wash their hands. Your role does not exist in other countries. Other countries are focused on solution in the hospitals, while we work together to the lowest level of the community.
Second, let me express my gratitude to all village heads who as of today have administered [vaccine] jabs, who have administered a total of 374 million vaccine [doses] to the people. Thanks to all of you for inviting people to get vaccinated. 374 million [doses] is not a small number. Injecting 374 million times is not easy, but we can do it because, once again, we work together.
Booster vaccination is still at 9.6 percent, only 20 million. Let us urge the people to get boosted. What for? To protect our people from COVID-19, from new variants. Even if they get infected, if they are already boosted, they will only have mild symptoms. In fact, many people do not feel that they are infected although they actually are.
Third, regarding Village Fund. Let me reiterate that as of this year, Rp468 trillion has been distributed to villages. Do not consider this a small amount. This is huge. In the history of our country, villages have never been given a budget of Rp468 trillion. Therefore, be careful in managing this huge amount of money.
In fact, if there had been no COVID-19 in 2020, I was going to increase the budget for villages, but God has not allowed it because the money used for COVID-19 in 2020 was Rp690 trillion. That is huge. In 2021, it was Rp740 trillion. Huge. Thus, we also cut the funds for all ministries and we also cut a little of village fund. A little, we cut a little, not much, a little. Next year, God willing, the fund will be returned [to the usual amount] or increased.
From the Rp468 trillion, Pak Surta whispered to me, “Pak President, please give village operational fund for village governments.” I already answered directly, but I will repeat it again in my remarks.
Pak Surta asked, “Pak, if possible, please give 4 percent or 5 percent of the total budget.” No, no, no, no, no. For the first time, I will give 3 percent. The following years, it can be 4 or 5 percent. Please note it down.
All of you have received a budget from regency governments, haven’t you? This is a special operational fund, Village Fund. But I do acknowledge your hard work because Minister for Home Affairs, Pak Tito, has stated that it has been used for village roads, retention basins, irrigations, bridges. Everything is clear, concrete. There is physical evidence. It will support economic growth in villages and be aggregated into national economic growth.
Village roads, take a look at village roads. There are 227,000 kilometers of village roads. Some people do not believe it. “Pak, 227,000 kilometer is so long.”
I answered, yes, it is long, but it is not much because if we divide it with the number of villages in our country, 74,900, it means that there are only 3 kilometers per village, right? It is normal if there is a 3-kilometer-long [road construction] in a village, but for a major work, it is only 3 kilometers for me, but some people are still skeptical. Multiply seven—74,900 by 3, you will get the figure. So, there are many roads in villages that have just been built and repaired. Do prioritize production roads leading to paddy fields, to plantations. Those should be prioritized. Retention ponds, irrigations, and so on, bridges, village markets, village-owned enterprises, boat tethers, so many, I have checked one by one.
The fund can also be used for a lot of things related to life quality. Construction of clean water infrastructures, integrated health posts, village birthing centers, drainages, wells, early childhood education centers, and facilities for bathing, washing, and latrine. It is also from Village Fund and it will improve life quality, human resource quality in villages. Do not be skeptical about the usefulness of the Village Fund that we have given to villages and it once again, affects the economic growth in villages, affects the national economic growth.
I order you—I have said this repeatedly—to use materials from your village for physical or nonphysical constructions. The farthest should be from your sub-district. If you want to buy cement, buy it in the village. If you want to buy bricks, buy them in your own village. Why? So that the money continues to circulate in our village, in our sub-district at the farthest point. Do not let the money return to cities, especially to Jakarta. Be careful. Be careful if it returns here. It leads to continuous and sustainable economic growth, and it will eventually return to the center. Do work on this. It is essential.
Buy everything from our village, anything. You want to buy eggs, for example, for nutritional supplements for children, you don’t have to go to the city. Find—maybe the price is different, different, but you can still buy in our village because the money will continue to circulate there. That will support the livelihood of our people, of rural communities. It will eventually reduce poverty rate in villages and it is already visible. Check the curve, it continues to decrease. We hope—if there was no pandemic, it might have been a sharp downward curve, but because there is a pandemic, it increased again a little. This is what we hope for, why development begins in villages.
As for this year, the total amount that will be transferred is Rp68 trillion. This morning I checked how much has been used. It’s still 13.5 percent. Perhaps complaints also arise because the accountability report is too complicated and lengthy, isn’t it?
Minister of Home Affairs, do manage it with Ministry of Finance so that accountability report is not complicated. [If it is still complicated,] village heads may not check roads, may not check irrigations, may not check integrated health posts. Instead, they will only deal with accountability report. My head also hurts looking at accountability reports. My head hurts just by looking at it, let alone from making it.
However, I have ordered my ranks to deal with it multiple times. Apparently, it is not easy to change our accounting system, but I hope this complaint will be followed up by Minister of Home Affairs so that everything is simpler and easier.
As for Village Direct Cash Assistance (BLT), Chairperson of the APDESI told me that 40 percent should not be a minimum. Instead, 40 percent should be the maximum. Yes, I agree. Therefore, village heads can freely use the budget for other urgent needs, which differ from one village to another. We grant village heads the discretion. Finally, about stamps. Frankly, I just found out, Pak Surta told me, I am also surprised. Then what is the picture if not.. only writing?
Minister of Home Affairs, just issue an Instruction of Minister of Home Affairs, the stamp should use Garuda. That is the emblem of our country. If it is used by village heads, it is normal and mandatory. It is all clear.
That concludes my statement on this auspicious occasion. I highly appreciate all of your hard work in developing our villages and we hope we can bring prosperity and welfare to our villages.
What? What? Oh, salary is given once a month. Minister of Home Affairs, this one has not been answered. Every month. I honestly do not know. How come salaries are given every three months? I do not understand, I do not understand, but alright. We will immediately change it. We will try to give it every month.
Is there anything else before I give up the floor? Oh, there are so many suggestions, I will answer it later, I will. Chairperson of the APDESI, Pak Surta will collect them. We will study all of them one by one, things that prevent villages from being agile, fast. Then what decisions that can be delegated to villages, we will—we will change it all.
That concludes my statement on this auspicious occasion.
I thank you.
Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.