The Jakarta Post on Aug. 21 quoted Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo as saying that his administration and businesspeople needed to change their approach in order to make Jakarta a service-oriented city. For his part, the governor pledged to make the administration more accountable and transparent.
What the governor has promised deserves our support. However, the most important thing is that this initiative ought to be implemented as soon as possible.
The sooner the better. A healthy business environment needs the government's support so it can provide fast, easy and transparent services.
The 2008 global competitiveness report launched by the World Economic Forum on competitiveness ranked Indonesia 55th out of 134 countries.
It means that the country is quite unattractive for business activities. Indonesia's competitiveness has been weakened due to corrupt practices and bureaucratic inefficiency (The Corruption Eradication Commission Report, 2009).
According to Transparency International's CPI in 2006, 2007 and 2008, Indonesia remains one of world's most corrupt countries The country ranks 130th among 163 countries surveyed in 2006, and 143rd among 179 countries surveyed in 2007.
However, although Indonesia managed to improve its position to 126th among 180 states surveyed in 2008, this was still not sufficient since some ASEAN countries are better in combating corruption, including Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.
Those surveys show graphically that investors are more likely to spend their capital on these three neighboring countries rather than in Indonesia.
The Regional Autonomy Monitoring Committee (KPPOD) in 2007 concluded in its report that businesspeople face complicated procedures, long time lags and high costs in obtaining business permits. Actually, the finding is not so surprising as these are common practices in some public service sectors.
Dealing with bureaucracy means that companies have to spend much time and money in order to obtain licenses to operate businesses in Indonesia.
The World Bank has calculated that in Indonesia it takes an average of 151 days to complete all the paperwork required to start a company, against 30 in Malaysia and eight in Singapore.
The relevant permits cost 131 percent of Indonesia's average annual income per head, compared with 20 percent in the Philippines and 7 percent in Thailand.
Another survey conducted by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in 2008 on public sector integrity, gives an indication that government officials remain corrupt.
On the other hand, although there are already mechanisms to control corruption, they are unable to create corruption-free conditions. The survey also placed Jakarta 38th out of 52 local governments surveyed. It shows that the systems supporting transparency and professionalism in Jakarta public service officers are still poor.
Bureaucratic reform is urgently needed particularly in the Jakarta city administration. Reforming the Jakarta bureaucratic system is essential since the city is a place where businesspeople must process business permits and run their enterprises.
In this case, it is a must to make Jakarta a business-friendly city by promoting good governance.
Bureaucratic reform has to be a sustainable and comprehensive effort. It includes reforming all government structures and organizations. Hence, there are some aspects which need to be considered in implementing bureaucratic reform.
Firstly, each institution in the government should have clear vision and mission. Then there must be activity plans which are correlated directly with the achievement of both vision and mission.
It is very important for the government to develop innovative strategies for enhancing the achievement of its vision and mission. Innovative strategies are needed to boost the quality of public services.
Secondly, the government employees must have the appropriate ability to carry out their tasks. In other words, professionalism is linked to the basic competence of state officials. The right staff should be in the right positions.
Thirdly, its important to improve human resources management systems, from recruiting, remuneration, and training to procedures for promotion and retirement.
Remuneration, for instance, should be based on capacity and performance. Rewards and punishments must be applied. On the other hand, the recruitment system must be conducted in a transparent and fair way so that the government can get the best candidates.
Furthermore, organizations must produce a code of conduct. Parallel with this effort, a committee must be established within each organization to scrutinize whether the government employees break the code of conduct or not.
Eventually, we need to empower supervisory units to monitor the business processes of these institutions. This is also to ensure activities within the organizations remain on track.
Administrative reform needs strong commitment and political will. The Jakarta Governor has said that reforming the bureaucracy requires more than just lip service.
To our mind, this is obviously true. Consequently, Fauzi Bowo has to prove to the citizens of Jakarta, especially businesspeople, that he is very serious in reforming his administration.
The writers work at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). The opinions expressed are their own.