Oldest cities rank high in govt evaluation
Banjarbaru in South Kalimantan and Cimahi in West Java have made significant progress compared to other regions, according to the Home Ministry.
They are the only two well-performing cities among 198 regencies and municipalities formed during the regional autonomy era.
Longer experience in public administration seems to have been a major factor. Banjarbaru was given administrative status as a city in 1966, while Cimahi received it in 1975. Their administrations were closely groomed by the central government, before being among the first official municipalities when regional autonomy became effective in 2001.
Today, both municipalities rank higher than other regions in a government evaluation conducted in April last year. The evaluations were based on good governance, competitiveness, public service and social welfare.
The two municipalities were identified as maintaining transparency in logistics procurement, providing adequate education and health facilities, and improving per capita income.
It is not clear whether leadership has always been one of the main factors in the cities’ performances. Cimahi Mayor Itoc Tochija is not free of controversy.
Critics have accused him of only being able to absorb some 30 percent of the city budget, while others want to name him the city’s “Father of Development”.
Meanwhile, apart from a number of awards for Banjarbaru, mayor Ruzaidin Noor was among the regional leaders selected to join an executive training program at Harvard University in the United States last September.
The two municipal governments, which have won a number of awards and prizes at the national and provincial levels, have also launched their own “clean and green” programs.
In contrast, Paniai and Puncak Jaya, two regencies given administrative status in 1996 before officially becoming regencies in 2003, have not delivered much progress.
A low quality of human resources, security disturbances blamed on the Free Papua Movement (OPM), skyrocketing prices for basic commodities and corruption have hindered programs in education, health and transportation, good governance and social welfare.
The independent Regional Autonomy Watch (KPPOD) said corruption was the main factor for the backwardness in low-performing regions — despite continuous training programs.
Robert Endi Jaweng, KPPOD’s manager of external affairs, cited the 2007 graft case that implicated the Paniai regent.
Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi said Monday that the performance of local administrations are particularly hampered by the fact that their governors, regents and mayors are in jail, serving time for corruption — or being investigated on graft charges. The ministry’s data shows 173 regional heads — or a third of regional heads of 495 regencies and municipalities and 33 provinces — were being investigated as witnesses, suspects and defendants from 2004 to 2012.
Currently, 70 percent of them have become convicts, the Kompas daily reported Tuesday.
Govt told to merge under-performing regions
Excess: Flames engulf government cars in front of the regency administration office in Mojokerto, East Java in this May 21, 2010 photo, following the disqualification of a candidate for regent. Aimed at improving public services, regional autonomy is an ongoing experiment more than a decade old, with critics decrying negative effects, such as the rush for new positions, as parliament continues to pass laws on new regions. Antara/Syaiful ArifRegional autonomy experts are calling on the central government to focus on merging the country’s worst-performing provinces, regencies and municipalities, given their failure to bring significant progress to their people and strengthen democracy.
Several critics have also urged the government to maintain the moratorium against the creation of new regions, despite proposals for new jurisdictions continually being pushed by lawmakers.
Siti Zuhro, a member of the Home Ministry’s Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) expert team, said the moratorium, set to end in December, should be kept in place to curb political enthusiasm from local elites and political parties to form new regions. According to a government evaluation, almost all of the 205 new regions formed between 2001 and 2008 failed to perform well in improving social welfare and strengthening democracy.
“Both the central government and the House of Representatives should close the channel for the increasing number of proposals for new regions, at least for the time being, and focus on the merger of the under-performing regions,” Siti said recently.
“Otherwise, we will see more bloodshed.”
Siti was referring to a 2008 rally that ended in the death of North Sumatra Legislative Council speaker Azis Angkat, in connection to the proposed formation of Tapanuli province, which led the central government to launch the moratorium against new regions.
She warned that the political interests behind the House’s approval of new regions have failed to thoroughly take into account numerous crucial factors, including the administrative and human resources requirements, set by the government in forming new regions.
The central government allocated Rp 1.33 trillion (US$144.97 million) in general allocation funds for 22 newly developed regions in 2003, doubling that to Rp 2.6 trillion for 40 new regions in 2004 and then allocating Rp 47.9 trillion in 2010.
The government has also allocated funds to build infrastructure in new, under-developed regions. These funds are incentives that are suspected to have contributed to the repeated proposals for new regions.
Public administration expert Ryas Rasyid, who initially helped design the country’s regional-autonomy framework and now a presidential advisor on bureaucratic reform, said the government should maintain the moratorium.
“The government should speed-up regional autonomy in Aceh and Papua to allow them to catch up with other developed provinces,” he said.
Ryas added that improving the autonomy of Aceh and Papua was crucial to improving the welfare of people in areas located on the border of neighboring countries.
According to a government evaluation in April 2011, three years after Government Regulation No. 6/2008 on the evaluation of local governments was issued, almost all new regions formed between 2000 and 2008 failed to reach minimum targets set by the central government in the areas of public services, governance, competitiveness and social welfare.
Only the municipalities of Banjarbaru in South Kalimantan and Cimahi in West Java scored relatively high, partly thanks to being administrative municipalities since the New Order era.
Of the seven new provinces, North Maluku, Gorontalo and Bangka Belitung scored below the minimum of 60 out of 100. West Papua, effectively formed in 2003, was the worst-performing province.
The government also ranked the 198 new regencies and municipalities regarding the local governments’ performance and has released the top ten performing and under-performing administrations, according to the same criteria.
The evaluation method gives a weight of 30 percent to social welfare, 25 percent each for good governance and public service, and 20 percent for competitiveness.
The independent Regional Autonomy Watch (KPPOD) criticized the way the central government evaluated the regions.
KPPOD external affairs manager Robert Endi Jaweng hailed the systematic evaluation method but said it has not been applied regularly and fairly.
He said that based on KPPOD’s field observations, the evaluation, which was conducted only once in a decade, was unfair and the inputs for the evaluation were based on the new regions’ compulsory regular reports, random monitoring and questionnaires.
“If a new region forgets to send its report on activities in certain fields or its report fails to meet the standard requirements, it will be crossed out in the evaluation,” he said.
Robert said several new regions had been deemed under-performing for failing to submit their reports regularly, but they actually had improvements in the subject areas.
The KPPOD urged close monitoring and human-resources training of personnel in charge of the new regions to improve their performance.
Robert said the government lacks the political commitment to enforce Government Regulation No. 6/2008 on evaluation of local governments and Government Regulation No. 129 on the formation and merger of new regions.
“The government should have evaluated the new regions three times since the regulation was issued and merge the ten most under-performing regions with their nearest region to prevent them from overburdening the state budget,” he said.
The House greeted the government’s plan to be more selective and alert in forming new regions, but warned against the proposed merger of the worst performing regions.
Deputy chairman of the House Commission II overseeing domestic governance and regional autonomy, Gandjar Pranowo, said a “partnership approach” in proposing the merger of regions would be needed to overcome likely resistance from local elites and political parties.
How many provinces does Indonesia need?
Since the introduction of regional autonomy over a decade ago, Indonesia has seen the formation of 205 new autonomous regions — seven provinces, 164 regencies and 34 municipalities — a drastic departure from 32 years of centralized government. In total, the country now has 529 autonomous regions: 33 provinces, 398 regencies and 98 municipalities. Proposals for additional regions continue, despite the government’s moratorium pending evaluation of whether the new regions have met their original decentralization purpose: Better public service. The following reports by the The Jakarta Post’s Ridwan Max Sijabat looks at the problem.
Regional autonomy came into law in 1999 as the strongest symbolic breakaway from the earlier centralized, authoritarian rule of the world’s largest archipelagic country. Citizens and critics, however, were quick to question whether conditions were significantly better in the new provinces, regencies and townships.
The House of Representatives largely continued to agree to pass every proposal for a new autonomous region, even those that looked too poor to sustain themselves, leading to suspicions of self-serving politicians. Going by the indicator of the Home Ministry, the new regions were largely under-performing in four areas: good governance, public service, competitiveness and social welfare.
Of the 198 new regencies and municipalities, only Banjarbaru and Cimahi municipalities in South Kalimantan and West Java respectively have shown good performance. One explanation from the ministry has been that they were among the oldest townships since Soeharto’s rule, before they were declared permanent municipalities in 2001.
The legislature, local elites and the central government have been at odds over the ideal number of provinces. The government declared the moratorium against setting up new regions since the dispute over new regencies peaked in an ugly conflict in North Sumatra that led to the death of the Legislative Council speaker Azis Angkat
The moratorium still stands to give the government enough time to evaluate the performance of newly developed regions and to conduct studies on the ideal number of provinces, regencies and municipalities.
So far, the government has suspended processing 181 proposed regions submitted through the Home Ministry and 13 others submitted through the House. Source: Home Ministry, 2012
The Regional Autonomy Advisory Council (DPOD) and the expert team at the Home Ministry were of the same opinion that the government had to maintain the moratorium to prevent them from overburdening the state budget.
In addition to evaluating the performance of newly developed regions, the central government has developed a grand design for the ideal number of provinces, regencies and municipalities until 2025.
According to the grand design, the government has limited the formation of 11 new provinces, to reach a limit of 44 provinces, towards 2025. Taking into account the geographic and demographic perspectives, Papua, West Papua and East Kalimantan are prioritized to be developed into eight provinces given their borders with Papua New Guinea, Australia and Malaysia, and also their population density of between only eight and 16 people per square kilometer.
Source: Home Ministry, 2012Based on their studies and consultations, the Home Ministry says Aceh, North Sumatra, Riau, West and Central Kalimantan can be developed into eight provinces because they were part of 15 rarely-populated provinces. They are also regarded as strategic, given defense issues and their proximity to Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
Maluku, East Nusa Tenggara, North Sumatra and North Sulawesi, bordering with neighboring countries such as Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, have their geographic importance to be developed into eight provinces for defense and security reasons.
Five other provinces — Lampung, West and East Java, East and West Nusa Tenggara — could also be developed into ten provinces given their large territories; but their populations are denser than Papua and the other sparsely populated provinces.
The director general for regional autonomy affairs at the Home Ministry, Trencherman, said that considering all factors — including the result of the government evaluation of all 33 provinces and mounting aspirations from local elites — Aceh, North Sumatra, East and West Kalimantan, Central and Southeast Sulawesi and West Papua — were expected to be developed into 14 provinces, while Papua could be developed into five provinces.
He said, however, that in addition to geographic and demographic factors, the government would prioritize the defense aspect in forming new provinces in the future.
“The narrower the regions are, the easier the provision of public services, improving social welfare and strengthening defense,” he said. He added that in addition to Aceh, Riau, West and East Kalimantan and Papua, Central and Southeast Sulawesi would also likely be prioritized as new, smaller provinces.
Siti Zuhro, a member of the Home Ministry’s expert team from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said the defense aspect has gained a larger portion the country’s geographic and demographic factors following a number of studies and national seminars on regional developments in anticipation of internal and external threats to the unitary state.
According to studies conducted by the government’s eight-member expert team, an additional 53 provinces could be developed from the current 33 if all factors, including fiscal potential, natural resources, defense and ethnic diversity aspects were taken into account. The government, however, estimates that only 44 would be a more manageable figure in the short term.