Global Demand for Seafood Tests Indonesia’s Sovereignty

Since April 1, Thailand has closed its Andaman Bay for commercial fishing and will maintain the policy until June 30. In a similar maneuver, China will adopt a moratorium on fishing in its waters from the Yellow Sea to the East China Sea and the South China Sea from May 1 to September 1.

Altogether more than 250,000 fishing vessels will be affected, and many of them will venture further to catch fish to avoid the costs of stopping operations completely.

To put this into context, China is the world’s largest net exporter of seafood, while the number one net importer of seafood is the US. However, China will soon become the world’s biggest seafood importer due to a rise in its people’s average income. China’s import volume has grown by 8 percent annually.
By 2020, the Chinese government projects that as marine resources deplete, the country’s fisheries production will shrink to around 10 million tons, a contraction of 3 million tons compared to its 2015 volume.

Growing Chinese demand for seafood, however, will stress existing global fisheries stocks unless proper sustainability measures are rigorously applied.

In comparison, the US government recently enacted a rule on seafood traceability seeking to prevent imports of illegally caught fish. However, major US seafood companies have filed a lawsuit against the government, claiming that the policy will increase operational costs by up to US$1 billion per year – because in practice, large volumes of US seafood are exported to processing hubs mainly in China and then reimported by US companies.

Witnessing these dynamics, the global demand for seafood will impact countries with relatively healthy fisheries stocks, including Indonesia.

Overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) has been a global problem for decades but it is only recently that the Indonesian government has increased its awareness of sustainability challenges in its maritime domain, as part of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s global maritime nexus vision

Indonesia’s zero-tolerance of poaching has quickly shaped the policy debates in the regional, and to some extent global, trade in seafood. Up to two years ago, Indonesia’s seafood entered the world markets without proper accounting and controls.

Thailand, with its Thai Union Group, is the largest canned tuna exporter in the world, but it imports 90 percent of its tuna sources, mainly from Indonesia. In the past, a large number of Thai fishing vessels operated illegally in Maluku waters, employing migrant workers in slavery-like conditions, exposed only after the Indonesian government slapped a fisheries licensing moratorium and transshipment ban in late 2014.

Thai Union’s revenue in 2014 stood at $3.44 billion, completely dwarfing Maluku’s regional revenue from fisheries, which amounted to less than $1million that year.

Stark numbers have also emerged in Merauke in Papua, where the Chinese fishing firm Pingtan Marine Enterprise Ltd (NASDAQ: PME) has operated in the rich waters of Arafura. In its public investor presentation, PME reported a decline in revenue from $233 million in 2014 to $60.7 million in 2015. The report detailed that 156 of their Chinese-flagged fishing vessels stopped operating in Indonesian waters following the moratorium policy, a bizarre statement given that foreign-flagged vessels have been banned from operating in Indonesia since 2005.

PME claims that a vessel operating in Arafura can earn a net income up to $1 million per year, which as it happens equals Papua’s total revenue from fisheries in 2014.

Reforms are underway to realign the gap in Indonesia’s seafood potential with actual performance. Those who have benefited from shady past practices dislike such reforms and continue to fight policies implemented by the government, claiming that such policies have “hurt” exports and the industry.

It is naïve to only see the performance of Indonesia’s seafood industry through its export figures. Domestic seafood consumption should instead top our concern, since protein from cattle will not be enough. Indonesia still largely imports its beef, despite the fact that its prices have been volatile and lower income groups cannot afford to buy it.

Hence, people will resort to seafood as an alternative source of protein. The Indonesian Central Statistics Bureau (BPS) has reported a deflation trend from 2014-2016 for fish prices in the domestic market, meaning fish has become more affordable for consumers.

As is the case for China, Indonesia needs to realize that prioritizing domestic demand will be a challenging task with 260 million mouths to feed, the fourth-largest population in the world after China, India and the US.

Making sure that there is enough fish caught by Indonesian fishermen for generations to come, through proper sustainability measures, is the only way to ensure the President’s vision of making the “oceans the future of the nation” a reality.


#HidungFika – November 2016

Kumpulan tulisan fiksi #HidungFika tentang ulasan berita terkini di bulan November 2016. Enduslah tulisan ini dengan akal dan humor yang sehat.


“Lebaran Kuda”

Komentar kejadian terkini minggu lalu (published 7 November 2016)

  1. Siapapun ahli ramal Pak SBY, saya mau pakai juga. Karena canggih, sebelum ada tuduhan tunggang-menunggangi demo 4 November 2016 beliau sudah klarifikasi 2 hari sebelumnya. Saya dan segenap crew #HidungFika (saingan Mata Najwa) mengucapkan selamat hari raya Lebaran Kuda.
  2. Dikabarkan penjualan produk topi cowboy dan jaket bomber meningkat. Sejumlah pemilik olshop mengucapkan terima kasih kepada Pak Jokowi. Akhirnya Menteri Keuangan Sri Mulyani memikirkan ulang mengenai rencana pengenaan pajak untuk endorser.
  3. Pemilu Presiden AS minggu ini dan hasil polling antara Clinton dan Trump menunjukkan hasil yang tipis semenjak Direktur FBI menyatakan ada bukti baru terkait kasus email server Hillary Clinton. Dikabarkan sejumlah anggota DPR meminta Kongres AS studi banding ke Indonesia untuk melihat pemakaian Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook yang masih marak dilakukan oleh PNS di Indonesia.
  4. Pak Ahok dikabarkan akan duet dengan Young Lex. Ahok akan special appearance di lagu “Bad” khususnya di bagian “Memang gue anak nakal seringkali ngomong kasar tapi masih batas wajar”. Ditanyakan tanggapannya, Iwa K berkomentar, “Bebas! Lepas! Tinggalkan saja semua beban di hatimu”
  5. Jessica Wongso akan menjalani hukuman penjara selama proses banding vonis 20 tahunnya. Dikabarkan ada petisi Change.org meminta agar Jessica dipindahkan ke Sukamiskin dan dijadikan barista di sana.

“Saatnya ke Mars”

Komentar kejadian terkini minggu lalu (published 14 November 2016)

  1. Donald Trump terpilih menjadi Presiden AS setelah memenangkan 306 dari 270 electoral vote yang dibutuhkan, sementara Hillary Clinton meraih 232 electoral vote, meskipun memenangkan popular vote. Dikabarkan Elon Musk mendapatkan tambahan investasi untuk segera menyelesaikan proyek misinya ke Mars setelah website imigrasi Kanada crash.
  2. Menyaksikan kemenangan Trump, warga Kabupaten Bekasi merasa tidak terlalu bersedih dengan kemungkinan Ahmad Dhani menjadi Wakil Bupati. Namun sejumlah anggota masyarakat memastikan kembali kepada Mahkamah Konstitusi bahwa pasal Penghinaan Presiden benar-benar dihapus sebelum Setya Novanto dan Fadli Zon foto bersama dengan Ahmad Dhani di 2019.
  3. BPS rilis angka pertumbuhan ekonomi nasional di Q3 2016 yakni 5,02%. Beberapa analis ekonom menyebutkan kontraksi ekonomi ini karena ekspor yang menurun dan pemotongan anggaran yang menyeluruh di seluruh kementerian. Melihat situasi ini, dikabarkan bahwa Dimas Kanjeng Taat Pribadi dan tujuh mahaguru-nya akan diangkat sebagai Tenaga Ahli di Kementerian Keuangan.
  4. Mantan ketua KPK Antasari Azhar mendapatkan status bebas bersyarat dari LP Kelas 1 Tangerang setelah ditahan selama 7,5 tahun atas kasus pembunuhan Nasrudin Zulkarnain yang diduga terlibat cinta segitiga dengan caddy golf Rani Juliani. Baju korban yang hilang sebagai bukti kunci dari kasus ini masih merupakan misteri. Pengamat politik menyatakan ini sama misteriusnya dengan alasan pernikahan Rey Utami dan Pablo Putra Benua.
  5. Gubernur BI Agus Martowardojo diperiksa KPK terkait kasus korupsi proyek e-KTP. KPK sudah menetapkan mantan Dirjen Dukcapil Irman dan mantan Direktur Pengelola Informasi Administrasi Kependudukan Ditjen Dukcapil Kementerian Dalam Negeri Sugiharto sebagai tersangka. Kerugian negara dari mark-up proyek e-KTP ditaksir mencapai Rp. 2,3 T dan KPK menduga kasus ini akan melibatkan lebih banyak tersangka. Dikabarkan sebagian dana mark-up digunakan untuk memproduseri lagu “Alamat Palsu” dari Ayu Ting Ting sebagai jingle dan promosi penggunaan e-KTP.

“Daddy Wes”

Komentar kejadian terkini minggu lalu (published 21 November 2016)

  1. Presiden Jokowi menghadiri Munas Alim Ulama PPP dan menyatakan penyesalan terhadap penggunaan akun sosial media yang tidak bijak, yang isinya saling menghujat, adu domba dan provokasi. Menurut Pak Jokowi, hal semacam ini tidak mencerminkan tata nilai bangsa Indonesia. Menanggapi hal ini, seorang pakar komunikasi menyarankan Pak Jokowi lebih sering membuka bagian komentar Youtube Awkarin dan Instagram @lambe_turah.
  2. Warga dunia menyaksikan fenomena “Supermoon” pada tanggal 14 November 2016. Fenomena purnama raksasa ini merupakan yang paling besar dan terang semenjak 26 Januari 1948. Seorang pengamat astrolog menyatakan bahwa ini kemungkinan besar penyebab banyaknya perempuan Indonesia yang hormonal atau moody. “Ya, antara ini atau ekspektasi berlebihan terhadap pasangan yang tidak tersampaikan setelah melihat pernikahan Sandra Dewi di Tokyo Disneyland”, ujarnya.
  3. Gubernur DKI Jakarta non aktif, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama ditetapkan sebagai tersangka dalam kasus penistaan agama. Dikabarkan oleh Kemristekdikti bahwa terjadi peningkatan minat program studi Bahasa Indonesia, seiring dengan meningkatnya permintaan ahli bahasa yang #dipakai dalam persidangan pencemaran nama baik, penistaan agama, dan perkara libel lainnya yang marak di Indonesia.
  4. Presiden terpilih AS Donald Trump berencana menerapkan kebijakan database imigran Muslim seperti era administrasi George Bush di tahun 2002-2011. Sejumlah kritik mengatakan kebijakan ini seperti “internment camps” keturunan Jepang-Amerika paska kejadian Pearl Harbor. Namun demikian, beberapa jomblo melihat hal positifnya terhadap kemungkinan peningkatan opsi calon pasangan di MuslimMatrimony.com.
  5. Dikabarkan setelah selesai masa tayang “Golden Ways” di Kompas TV bulan Oktober lalu, Mario Teguh berencana bermitra dengan sebuah klinik fertilitas untuk membuka chain klinik tes DNA “Daddy Wes”. Deddy Corbuzier dikabarkan tertarik untuk menanamkan sahamnya dan juga membuka layanan perawatan rambut di klinik tersebut.

“Obliviate!”

Komentar kejadian terkini minggu lalu (published 28 November 2016)

  1. Mendikbud memutuskan untuk menghentikan sementara sistem Ujian Nasional (UN) mulai tahun depan dan ujian akhir siswa diserahkan ke pemerintah provinsi (untuk SMA, SMK, atau sederajatnya) dan pemerintah kabupaten/kota (untuk SD, SMP atau sederajatnya). Nantinya, kelulusan siswa tidak ditentukan oleh ujian akhir namun ditentukan oleh sekolah masing-masing. Mengetahui hal ini, dikabarkan sejumlah calo soal UN akan beralih profesi menjadi calo tiket konser Coldplay.
  2. Setelah video viral Mannequin Challenge dari Satlantas Aceh Besar dan Satlantas Brebes, juri kompetisi Mannequin Challenge Nasional, Desy Ratnasari, memutuskan pemenangnya adalah TMC Polda Metro Jaya. Ditanya alasannya, Desy menjawab, “Iya, karena mereka konsisten tidak bergerak setiap jam pulang kantor di jalanan Thamrin dan Sudirman”.
  3. Perwakilan Gerakan Nasional Pengawal Fatwa (GNPF) MUI yang juga Sekjen FPI, Novel Bamukmin menegaskan untuk tetap melakukan demo besar di jalanan utama Jakarta pada tanggal 2 Desember 2016. Hal ini mengundang polemik dari sejumlah tokoh nasional. Namun pengamat Robbie Abas menyarankan daripada demo di jalanan akan lebih bermanfaat untuk demo masak bersama Chef Aiko.
  4. Perdana Menteri Belanda Mark Rutte melakukan pertemuan bilateral dengan Presiden Jokowi. PM Rutte datang untuk menawar namun hanya mendapatkan koin Rp. 1.000 dari Presiden Jokowi meskipun sudah memberikan 1 keris sebagai simbolis pengembalian 1.500 benda yang ada di museum Belanda.
  5. Pemerintah dikabarkan sedang melakukan penelusuran apakah Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) beroperasi di Indonesia. Hal ini karena adanya indikasi mantera Obliviate yang digunakan secara massal menjelang terpilihnya Setya Novanto menjadi Ketua DPR kembali.

Sekian rangkuman berita bulan ini dari #HidungFika — enduslah tulisan ini dengan akal dan humor yang sehat.

Setting the stage

All the spotlight on an empty stage. Source: TRIBUN/Herudin
All the spotlight on an empty stage. Source: TRIBUN/Herudin

In a few hours, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will announce his cabinet. Despite promises for an early announcement, the pressure surrounding him to make his dream team is immense and hence, the delay. The end product, based on the various versions of the list of names being spread around, is beginning to look more of a product of compromise rather than a product of someone who can make his own decisions.

President Jokowi’s greatest strength is in his ability to communicate and gain the trust (and votes) of the common people. At the same time, however, this may irk the elites that are still clinging on to power. Shaping his cabinet seems to be the work of accommodating the interests of those who put him into power in the first place.

Jokowi_political_landscape

The quality of my doodle and handwriting aside, I would like to point out that we have a very popular President backed by an army of volunteers who would be willing to be mobilized at his will (but erratic and uncontrollable at times). However, President Jokowi has to manage the interests of Ibu Megawati and PDIP, his Vice President Jusuf Kalla (I’m observing that he is an autonomous political actor who does not stand entirely with the President and a veteran political operator himself), the Indonesia Hebat coalition (with Surya Paloh, Wiranto, etc) and the opposition, the Merah Putih coalition (with Prabowo, Aburizal Bakrie, etc) who is already giving the President a challenging landscape in the parliament. Military actors are operating as well in each of these camps (not as an institution ever since the erasure of “dwifungsi” by de jure), with the Islamists split between the two coalitions, the moderates tending to side with Jokowi.

President Jokowi’s track record in Surakarta and Jakarta should be applauded, but this is national politics. He would need maneuvers to outwit his opposition and prove that he is a man of himself and not a puppet of his political backing. What he did with KPK and PPATK to “screen” his ministers is one way for him to say “no” – along with the help of the media who can still back him up as long as he is still popular. Thus, his compromised cabinet may seem understandable, but in the very short run President Jokowi would need to prove that he can make his cabinet work – because he can’t run the government by himself. The stage is now set, and this will truly test his capabilities as a leader of change we voted for.

Jokowi's new "cabinet". Source: Twitter/@liputan9
Jokowi’s new “cabinet”. Source: Twitter/@liputan9

What is it with the beef import quota?

I think the beef import quota corruption case is going to the wrong directions. Instead of focusing about the case and the economic impact of the underlying import quota policy, most of the media’s focus is increasingly becoming on the women or the sex scandal surrounding it. I’m kinda pissed with the whole spin and I feel that I (at least) have the obligation to unpack the real issues that we should be debating instead of ‘proper’ nicknames for Javanese or Arabic girls.

Moving on. I think we firstly need to look at the structure of our beef market. Second, the implications of the import quota policy and of course, the ongoing corruption case on the beef import quota.

What needs to be in our urgent attention is that the current average price of beef in Java is about Rp. 85.0000-95.000/kg (USD 8-9/kg), and this is a significant jump from last year’s average price which is about Rp. 76.000/kg or Rp.60.000/kg in 2010. You look at the numbers (Ministry of Trade website), and you would see that there is roughly an increase of 20% in beef prices in just two years. Not normal.

Production-wise, if we look at the cattle sensus data, the number of beef cattle have shown an increasing trend. If we have an abundant of cattle why is the price so high? I need to quickly point out, provided that our data is valid, the production data shows the number of available cattle, not the number of meat available for consumption. The data that is largely missing is the number of meat stock we have in our abattoirs or traders (the middle supply chain).

Simple beef supply chain

We import beef in two forms: live beef cattle – so you can put them in feedlotters and make them plump (productivity counts), and frozen meat. Percentage-wise, we import about 60% of our import quota for live cattle, while 40% of our imports are frozen meat. We also limit the places where the imported beef can enter in our territory (only in certain ports), so it doesn’t disrupt the local market. You do want the poor cattle farmers to increase their welfare, no? No? You want cheap beef instead?

Now we go a bit to the rationale for the import quota. Basic microeconomics (for which I have mostly doodled during class – sorry Prof) tells us that if we have the price according to the world market (Pw), you have suppliers willing to sell at a cheaper price (and perhaps better quality too), while the local suppliers can’t compete and can only supply a small amount at that price. So let’s say the government imposes a quota and there is going to be a limit on how many beef products are available on the local market. Thus, this gives the opportunity for local cattle farmers to compete but alas, consumers might have to bear the more expensive price (Pq) as quotas affects the price indirectly. Voila, increase of producer surplus and decrease of consumer surplus, yadayadayada. The difference between quota and tariffs, the government can get the revenue from the tariff, but if it’s a quota – then whoever becomes the importers can get all the profit.

Import Quota

So who decides which importers can import the beef?

Now this is where the beef gets juicy (horrible pun, sorry).

In  January 2013, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) caught red-handed the handing over of money from Juard Effendi and Arya Arby Effendi, two executives from PT Indoguna Utama (a well-known beef importer), to Ahmad Fathanah (AF) – known to be the close acquaintance of Luthfi Hasan Ishak (LHI), the president of the Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera) at the time. Now the case is on trial and what is at stake is the government’s credibility in setting the import quota policy, as well as PKS’ credibility as a major Islamic party that sells itself as a clean and corruption-free party – with die hard grass root sympathizers (more on this political Islam aspect on another blog post).

But it’s not that easy for KPK as well. In order to prove that the importers paid a sum of money to AF and LHI to get the beef import quota, they need to prove that LHI in fact has an influence over the Ministry of Agriculture (with Minister Suswono, a PKS cadre, at its helm) – to give a recommendation for Indoguna as an importer – which is later decided in a coordination meeting between related ministries (i.e. Ministry of Trade and Ministry of Industry). In this meeting, apart from deciding which firms have the license to import based on the listed criteria, the government also decides the quotas – which have been decreasing for the past two years (compared to 2010).

Quota Influence Cycle

Seeing that this is quite a challenge, that’s why KPK (along with the help of PPATK) also use the Money Laundering Law on the suspects because the burden of proof shifts to them – they need to prove that the flow of money and all the financial transactions that goes through them is legit. And this is where the “many women of AF” story gets messy and convoluted the beef import story because there’s so many unanswered flow of money that goes to these women through AF.

Since the beef import quota case is still on trial, it is too early to know whether any of the suspects are going to jail or if any other actors are going to be implicated. But what we do know now is that the whole import quota policy is based on an unreliable production data, driven by a self-sufficiency policy that is not adding any value to cattle farmers, nor giving the consumers affordable meat.

With rising income in Indonesia, you’ve got an increasing demand but you’re limiting the supply and you expect things to be cheap? Do the math.

The BP Migas Tsunami

Some bad news and good news for the Indonesian oil and gas industry. After the unexpected ruling from the Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi – MK) to dissolve BP Migas – the state’s regulating body for upstream oil and gas and contracts – many were left in limbo with questions regarding the status of the existing contracts and of the future of the industry as a whole. The good news is, perhaps this is could be an opportunity for governance reform in the industry. Oh and, perhaps good news for lawyers as well as their billable hours may increase.

The crux of the matter lies in Article 33 of the 1945 Constitution, in which the Court believes that with the structure of BP Migas after the 2001 oil and gas law, the state is unable to utilize its natural resouces to maximize its benefits for the welfare of the people. The Court argues that BP Migas is unconstitutional because BP Migas prevented the State from exercising directly its full authority over its oil and gas resources and with the signing of the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) the State lost its freedom to make regulations or policies contrary to the contents of the PSC.

In a way I believe the Court had a point, because BP Migas wasn’t the only regulator as contractors would still need to liaise with the Upstream Oil and Gas Directorate under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (“MEMR”). It’s cumbersome for contractors at times because you had to go to both BP Migas and MEMR anyways. Calling BP Migas as a regulating body would not be entirely correct, in my opinion. They are the executing legal entity to enter into PSCs with oil and gas contractors (and they negotiate on behalf of the government to agree on the contract’s terms).

Now, with the “tsunami” ruling that swept everybody off their feet, the government needed to act quickly to ensure that in the aftermath of the tsunami, there’s a continuity in the oil and gas industry. They issued Presidential Regulation No. 95/2012, stating that the responsibilities of BP Migas is now transferred to a temporary working unit (Upstream Oil and Gas Business Activities Implementation Unit – UPKUHM) under the direct supervision of the Minister of EMR, and all contracts will remain in effect until they expire or until such other dates may be agreed.

Thus, as Prof. Hikmahanto argued in his Kompas op-ed (do note that he was also consulted by the government during the court process), with the MK ruling, the government is actually exposed to the liabilities of the contract. He cautioned, with this arrangement in effect, the government is in hostage of potential legal problems and this beats the purpose of the “maximizing benefits for the welfare of the people” argument.

The 2001 oil and gas law is currently being revised, but with this ruling, the ideological battle is locked and the law must be revised accordingly. If I can draw on Prof. Hikmahanto’s op-ed correctly, there would be at least two options to move forward: A) nominate a state-owned enterprise to act on behalf of the government so that it can exercise its petroleum resources – i.e. Pertamina like the pre-Reformasi era; or B) a total overhaul of the oil and gas law and apply the mining licenses regime into the oil and gas industry.

Costs and benefits are a bit murky at this point of time, but we know the precedent in option A and how difficult it is in implementing option B. Pertamina isn’t exactly “clean” from corruption and that is what prompted the oil and gas law in 2001 (separation between the regulator and the operator). Meanwhile, knowing the track record of how Laws in Indonesia are legislated together with DPR, the longer the oil and gas law revision will take, the longer that the government will be exposed of the liabilities of the contracts. Not to mention whether it is truly practical to implement a licensing regime in the oil and gas industry.

Funny thing is, the group of proponents of MK’s ruling are the same proponents who proposed the 2001 oil and gas law in the first place – Islamic groups such as Muhammadiyah and Islamic political parties PAN, PKB, PPP, PK, PBB – who were dominant during Reformasi and made Abdurrahman Wahid the President (read Lin Che Wei’s analysis here).

One should be curious to understand why they would repeal what they proposed earlier – if not for dubious political motives and not for “the welfare of the people”.

All that money…for what?

I was browsing through the 2013 budgetary note from the Ministry of Finance and made this chart (sorry, too lazy to translate it into English):

Obvious thing that I wanted to point out is how wasteful we are for spending our money on mostly energy subsidies (fuel and electricity) which amounts to a total of 274.7 trillion IDR. I made an argument about why I’m against fuel subsidies previously on my other post, but this time I’m going to mention a bit about measuring impact. If Indonesian politicians and/or decision-makers finally had some sense to lift the subsidies, would they spend the money wisely into developing good programs for its citizens?

Program evaluations are not something novel for development work – since the taxpayers of the donor countries would like to scrutinize whether the aid money they’re giving goes into the right directions (or else it’s better to be spent in their own countries). And so, the eval wonks should have something similar to the “impact chain” tool to measure whether what they’re doing  is indeed helping the world to be a better place.

So let’s say you want to distribute some boats for some needy group of fishermen, you don’t only give them the boat put perhaps some capacity development to teach them how to fish better (inputs). The tangible output would be the new boats themselves, and the outcomes would be an increase of their catch when they go out to sea, which subsequently lead to an increase to their welfare (impact). Of course this is an over-simplification and the real stuff would involve baseline data, rigorous methodologies, and resources (time, money and the right brains – oh hey, maybe an MPP degree would help). But doing evaluations is indeed a worthwhile exercise because in the end you get to find out which programs deserve to stay and which ones deserve to be terminated.

Now, how often do we hear the results of the program evaluations made by the government (assuming that they are even evaluated)? Do we even know what are all the programs that the government actually oversees?

The thing is, government spending increases year by year, and it is quite a common knowledge for Indonesians that it is usually spent late in the year. Some attribute it to procurement issues, but most of the time it’s just poor planning. And they can’t make better plans if they don’t evaluate the previous programs beforehand.

And Jakarta voted…

20120920-180851.jpg

For Jakartans, 20 September 2012 would be a historical day and for some, it’s a free leave day to plan your long weekend out of the city (offices in Jakarta are given a holiday for people to go out and vote). It is the day when the fate of commuters in Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi (Bodetabek) are decided by the voice of Jakartans. Most likely it is also the day when the fate of property developers in the Bodetabek area are decided as well.

Quick count results show that Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) won against the incumbent governor Fauzi Bowo. Many articles already point out why Jokowi stands out from Fauzi Bowo, such as this piece in NYTimes or in Foreign Policy about Princeton’s case study on Jokowi’s leadership in Solo, but I’m interested more in the level of participation of voters – only 67.35% (the first round of elections was 64.4%).

When people vote, they vote for the leaders on top, but the real impact is indirect because voters mostly deal with the street-level bureaucrats on a daily basis (diagram below). My hypothesis is that the low turnout of voters is caused by people assuming that whom they vote for won’t matter because business-as-usual in the Jakarta bureaucracy will be implemented – thus voting won’t change a thing. Personally I believe we need to persuade voters that there are leaders that can change how the bureaucracy work and they can deliver results – though there are still few in Indonesia. It is just unfortunate that in Indonesia these leaders are pre-selected by political parties and not by the people.

20120920-181055.jpg

Technically Jokowi hasn’t won yet. The official results from KPUD needs to be announced some time in October and he has to formally resign as the Mayor of Solo (with entailed risks if he’s not permitted by DPRD). Jakartans on the other hand, are impatient and they want to see quick results (i.e. less congestion, less floods). No matter who becomes governor, it depends whether he/she can change the way things work in the bureaucracy through his/her leadership, program and policies. And this doesn’t come instantly.

Then there’s that problem unique to Jakarta. It is Indonesia’s engine of growth (see figure above from the World Bank) and it definitely attracts people from the rest of the country. What the future governor needs to realize is that policies to prevent people from coming to Jakarta is futile, because in principle, cities attract poor people. What Jakarta needs is a governor that is committed to develop its people as complete human beings (education, housing & health) and not just develop places that caters to the rich.