Q&A: How Indonesia will accelerate infrastructure dev’t in 2016

Natashya Gutierrez

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Q&A: How Indonesia will accelerate infrastructure dev’t in 2016
Rappler sits down with Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono

JAKARTA, Indonesia – What are the priorities of the Public Works and Housing Ministry, which has the highest budget allocation in 2016? Rappler sits down with Minister Basuki Hadimuljono to find out.

Hadimuljono has been praised by Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as the best-performing minister in regards to meeting targets so far – a notable feat considering Widodo’s dissatisfaction with many of his ministers, which has led to at least one (and another rumored) Cabinet reshuffle.

The 2016 state-budget has allocated Rp 104.1 trillion ($7.4 billion) to the Ministry, in an attempt to accelerate infrastructure building. Hadimuljono is not intimidated.

Hadimuljono, who has Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Civil Engineering with focus on irrigation, tells Rappler about the Ministry’s plans and his secret to getting his work done. Hadimuljono was Head of Research and Development Unit of the Ministry for two years before becoming Inspector General of the Public Works Ministry. He then served as the Director General of Spatial Planning in the Public Works Ministry before being appointed as Minister by Jokowi.

What are the Public Works and Housing Ministry’s priorities for 2016?

In 2016 we have a priority first for food security – in terms of providing water for irrigation systems, because for agricultural [issues] it’s the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture. Me, I’m responsible for providing water for agriculture. Irrigation. So because of that, we are going to build 49 dams in 5 years, but for 2016, we are going to build 8 new dams. In 2015 we already started with 13 new dams, so by 2016, we are going to build 8 new dams.

And then for connectivity, we are going to build a toll road because we have a target to complete the TransJava toll road, 1600km by 2018. We are going to complete that. We also want a toll road for Sumatra [from Merak port in Banten province, across the sea to Sumatra island from Lampung to Palembang].

And then housing. We have a 1 million housing program for low-income people. And then for water supply and sanitation, we want to provide 100% of people [water], for now, on average, 62-70%.

What makes you different from your predecessors?

The spirit of the president. The supervision of the president and the spirit of the president for relaxing the regulations. Deregulation of land acquisition and others. So the president really has the spirit to deregulate.

What makes your Ministry different from others that have not been as successful in achieving their targets?

I’m not a politician. I was born with this Ministry so I’ve been working in public service for 32 years. I’m a true bureaucrat. I don’t know anything about politics. I just work and work and work. For example, on the 6th of January, we already signed a contract for Rp 25 trillion, [to start] work. With that contract, we can disburse at least 5% of the total budget. We can support the economic activities off the province. The contract-signing is mostly with the small and medium companies and they are working within the provinces, not on the national level.

For tourists and investors outside Indonesia, tell us more about your coordination with the Tourism Ministry with the goal to increase tourists?

We were just given an order by the president to support the 10 priority destinations of tourists [Borobudur in Central Java, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Bromo Tengger Semeru in East Java, Seribu Islands in Jakarta, Toba in North Sumatra, Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi, Tanjung Lesung in Banten, Morotai in North Maluku and Tanjung Kelayan in Belitung]. We have 10 priority tourist destination that have to be supported by accessibility, water, even toilets. The president said ‘You have to provide toilets with 4-star standards.’ The goal is for this year. Today I met with the World Bank and they will support us. They asked me to formulate a plan and next week they will meet us again.

What do you foresee as the biggest challenge to your job? How will you overcome that?

The biggest challenge in building is still the land acquisition but for me I never see a problem as a problem. I see it as a challenge. A challenge on how to solve a problem. I’m working together with the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Minister of Agrarian and Spatial Planning, and [other ministers] to solve the problem. – Rappler.com

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.