Remarks of President of the Republic of Indonesia at the Opening of the 2023 National Working Conference of Indonesian Civil Servants Corp (KORPRI), at Mercure Hotel, Ancol, DKI Jakarta Province, October 3, 2023

By Office of Assistant to Deputy Cabinet Secretary for State Documents & Translation     Date 3 Oktober 2023
Category: Remarks @en
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Bismillahirrahmanirrahim.
Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
Good morning,
May prosperity be upon us all,
Om swastiastu,
Namo Buddhaya,
Greetings of Virtue.

Distinguished Ministers of the Onward Indonesia Cabinet;
Distinguished General Chairman of the National Korpri Management Board Prof. Dr. Zudan Arif Fakrulloh along with all the ranks, Korpri administrators in ministries, institutions, provinces, regencies, and cities;
Distinguished members of Korpri that I am proud of;

Ladies and Gentlemen, Esteemed Guests.

I am so glad that I could make it here this morning at the National Working Conference of Indonesian Civil Servants Corps (Korpri). This is the only organization of the employees of the Republic of Indonesia that operates outside the officialdom. As Prof. Zudan mentioned earlier the number of Korpri members has reached 4.4 million. That is a huge number and can play a crucial role in determining the nation’s progress. We may have many political parties, but it’s Korpri that carries out and decides on government matters as it oversees various aspects of government operations. It is like a vehicle and bureaucracy is the engine. The engine is crucial. It’s bureaucracy. We need an engine that can withstand the heat, maintain its coolness, and exhibit resilience, especially in a world that’s changing almost every day.

Therefore, I want the work ecosystem of a state civil apparatus (ASN) to be encouraging. I have mentioned several times that the ecosystem should motivate them to perform, excel, and innovate. The responsibility falls on Provincial, Municipal, and Regional Secretaries, as well as Secretaries to Ministries and Secretaries General in ministries and institutions.

I have frequently emphasized the need for clear benchmarks and rewards to Minister of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB). Do not work at the office until midnight. I have been to a region where the principal and teachers worked until late at night. What for? I discovered that the overtime was related to the Budget Accountability Report (SPJ). Apparently, it’s not about preparing and planning teaching and learning activities, but it’s related to the Budget Accountability Report (SPJ).

Therefore, I returned and discussed this matter with Minister of Finance, emphasizing that the system needs to be overhauled and changed so that our civil servants’ orientation is not focused on preparing SPJ. SPJ is indeed mandatory, but it shouldn’t involve a 43-step procedure, as that’s too complex. When it goes from the central level to the province, then to the regency, and to the city, the number of steps could multiply up to a 120-step procedure, right? If anyone says it’s working perfectly, I’ll buy you a bicycle because the reality is different. There are flaws in our system.

Our bureaucracy should be a priority because it is the engine. What’s more crucial? At the provincial, district, city, and national levels. The primary measure should be economic growth. A Regional Secretary should not be appointed if, let’s say, they can’t improve the economy in a regency by six points something. That is how it’s supposed to work. It is not about SPJ. It does not work that way. We might get trapped in a system like that. What else? It is inflation. For inflation-related department heads, if the inflation rate in a region stood below three, it means you were not working. Then, regarding poverty. That should be our focus instead of the SPJ and procedure kind of thing. Minister of PANRB, we need to draft a new system once the ASN law has been issued so we can shift into the new system quickly as today’s world is changing rapidly.

When I was in India for G20, there were six countries expressed their concerns about artificial intelligence (AI). Now, generative AI has emerged. What are we afraid of? Technology has advanced, but the regulations are not ready yet. They don’t exist yet. Technology is everywhere. When new technologies emerge, our bureaucracy should be prepared with appropriate regulations. If you’re not ready, we might face situations like what happened recently with TikTok Shop, which could impact our SMEs, MSMEs, and traditional markets. Be cautious about e-commerce; it can be very beneficial if supported by proper regulations, or it can be problematic without proper backing.

That should be the responsibility of our bureaucracy, the ASN. We must change the system and it starts from the central first. Do change the system, the rules, and the regulations so that the orientation will follow suit. Otherwise, as the general chairperson said earlier, we will be trapped in a middle-income country trap, like what happened in Latin America. I’ve often mentioned that in the ’50s and ’60s, some countries had become developing countries. However, in the next 50 to 60 years later, they remain in the developing stage. Even now, they’re still considered developing countries, despite having the opportunity to transition into developed nations back then. From my observations and learnings, I’ve come to understand why this has happened. It’s because they couldn’t fully utilize or take advantage of the opportunities that were presented to them.

We are currently at a crucial juncture. The leadership in 2024, 2029, and 2034 will play a decisive role in determining whether Indonesia can transition to a developed nation, remain a developing country, or become trapped in the middle-income trap. This is a significant challenge that we must collectively address. Failing to seize the opportunities during these three leadership periods will keep us in the category of developing countries. If we can’t reform and improve the existing system to make it faster and more efficient, we risk getting stuck in the middle-income trap. Despite the immense potential, including a demographic bonus in the 2030s and abundant natural resources like our significant nickel reserves, which will be highly sought after for electric cars, we must act wisely.

However, opportunities like the one we have now typically come to a nation’s history just once. The World Bank, the OECD, the IMF, McKinsey, all have shared with me the same message, “President Jokowi, Indonesia has a significant opportunity for a leap forward, but if it’s not handled correctly and innovatively, I’m sorry to say, your country may remain stuck in the middle-income trap, as has occurred in Latin America.” This is precisely what we wish to avoid.

Therefore, the character of ASN must transform. It should not be monotonous, rigid, or wedded to routine. Instead, it should be innovative and adaptable to changing circumstances. The sheer volume of regulations, be it laws, ministerial decrees, regional laws, or forthcoming official and director-general regulations, will be streamlined. Flexibility and agility are now critical because change occurs rapidly. Furthermore, ASN should be open and adaptable to technology and digitalization. We can no longer resist it; we must embrace it as a pathway to advancement. This character, for me, should be consistently communicated to all Korpri members.

Regarding collaboration, I noticed that several ministries still hold sectoral egos. They walk alone. They make their path without any common ground. I have been trying to handle the issue for the past nine years so they have one set goal. Supporting one another, that is the goal.

I keep telling the Secretary General, Minister Secretary, and Regional Secretary please to not incorporate too many programs into the State Budget and Regional Budget and do not distribute it evenly to the regional offices. One, two, or three programs is enough. It is the goal that matters. And submit that to Regional Legislative Councils (DPRD). They shouldn’t all be crammed into the budget. For instance, when there’s a 5-percent increase in the Regional Budget (APBD), all departments add 5 percent across the board, which leads to a situation like that. I’ve personally experienced this; I’ve served as mayor twice, once as governor, and twice as president. I can say that there’s nothing quite like this in Indonesia. Having served as a mayor twice, governor, and president twice, I’ve gained a deep understanding of the situation on the ground.

Speaking of the State Budget and Regional Budget, do not distribute it too much to the regional offices, and the offices then share it again to the units under them, the head of division, subdivision.  If we keep doing that, it becomes nothing. Just shift the focus. If there are no dams in a regency, just concentrate on building a dam. One year of construction is enough. Or use the budget to construct a reservoir, it would be more effective to build 10 reservoirs. It’s important not to allocate an additional five percent of the budget for every regional office. We need to establish priorities, determining which projects take precedence and where they fall on our priority scale.

We’ve been entangled in a complex and convoluted procedural system for decades, largely due to the multitude of regulations. At one point, I revoked 3,300 regional regulations – don’t applaud just yet. I conveyed this to Ministry of Home Affairs, “Yes, Sir. We revoke it.” I revoked them through careful study and calculation. Within three months, we ended up in court, and we lost – not just once, but multiple times. That’s the system that needs significant improvement because these regional regulations also govern government bureaucracy at the provincial, regency, and city levels.

Then, regarding the acceleration of domestic product spending realization. Stay alert. The money we gather from taxes, levies, non-tax state income, royalties, dividends from SOEs, export duties, VAT, corporate income tax, and personal income tax, which is often difficult to collect and allocate to the State Budget and Regional Budget, should not be spent on imported goods. That is stupidity. Be careful. Do tell all the institutions that it is quite challenging for us to collect revenues only to be spent on imported goods. I need to always convey it. It does not boost our domestic MSMEs but instead benefits other countries. Does it work like that?

I would like to emphasize this issue. Regional Secretaries, please inform all department heads about this. Ministries’ Secretaries and Directors General, please relay to your subordinates that it is not good that the revenue we have earned hard is enjoyed by other countries. It saddens me that despite my repeated reminders, the situation hasn’t improved. Perhaps if you, as leaders of Korpri at the central and regional levels, communicate this directly, it might have a more significant impact.

Well, since I have checked on the data this morning. I always have data for breakfast anyway. The realization of domestic product spending from the State Budget only reaches 69 percent and the Regional Budget stands even lower. I have no idea what we bought from the budgets. How come it only reaches 56 percent? We should constantly monitor the realization of domestic product spending. Now, it is even getting easier in this digital era. The spending from SOEs reaches 46 percent. How can we promote our MSMEs, our economy, if the spending is still not oriented towards domestic products?

Regarding Nusantara Capital (IKN) and the relocation, I want to address the matter of moving. I’ve heard that some of you were excited about it and others were not. However, it’s important to remember that all of you have signed up for this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have 17 thousand islands. There is one island called Java Island that is home to 56 percent of our 278 million people. It is 56 percent of our population. Java Island’s carrying capacity is increasingly strained. Java Island contributes to 58 percent of our economic GDP and money circulation, but the remaining 17 thousand islands contribute less than one percent. This concentration on Java Island is causing imbalances, and I’ve often stressed the need for Indonesia-centric development rather than Java-centric. Jakarta, especially, is densely populated and faces complex challenges because it’s the hub for business, economy, education, and tourism. To address these issues, we need to shift our focus to other regions, like East Kalimantan and the archipelago.

To achieve this, ASN need to relocate. It’s a new opportunity, and there are incentives available. Moving can be challenging, but these incentives can make a significant difference. They include official residences, houses, apartments, relocation costs for the family, additional allowances, and more. It requires a pioneering spirit. In the past, placements outside of Java were common, but now it might seem a bit complicated. However, when you’re appointed, both parents will relocate, and hopefully, it will all work out.

That concludes my remarks on this auspicious opportunity. And by saying bismillahirrahmanirrahim, I hereby open the 2023 National Working Conference of the Indonesian Civil Servants Corps.

Thank you.
Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

 

(RIF/LW)

 

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