President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said Indonesia wanted to boost innovation in science and technology in the coming years with the government to continue increasing the budget allocation for such in the state expenditure.
For 2010, the Indonesian government has only allocated Rp 1.9 trillion (approximately US$205 million) or less than 1 percent of the total state expenditure for research and development.
Yudhoyono said, however, that this was almost double the Rp 1 trillion allocated in 2005.
“The government will continue to increase the budget percentage to reach an adequate figure,” he said Wednesday during a forum with the Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI) and the local science and technology communities at the Science and Technology Application Center in Serpong, Banten.
To further boost the country’s research and development in various fields, the President unveiled his plan to set up the National Innovations Committee, which will work under his direct supervision.
He said innovations developed should be relevant to problems faced by Indonesia, including poverty, food resilience, environmental protection and defense.
“We need technology that can empower the poor.”
Advances must be made in the food technology field, such as through the development of superior seeds to boost harvest yields, with the country’s aim of becoming a major food producer at the global level, Yudhoyono said.
In the field of health, meanwhile, it is important to develop technology to combat emerging infectious diseases such those caused by the H5N1 and H1N1 flu viruses.
AIPI chairman Sangkot Marzuki said Wednesday’s forum was attended by some 500 participants, including ministry officials, scientists, university rectors and businesspeople.
Also attending the meeting was former president Baharuddin Jusuf Habibie who was state minister of science and technology during the rule of then president Soeharto.
Yudhoyono credited Habibie as the father of Indonesia’s science and technology while Habibie said Yudhoyono was the first president to visit the AIPI office.
During the meeting, US Ambassador to Jakarta Cameron R. Hume read a letter from US President Barack Obama who expressed his satisfaction over the existing partnership in science and technology between the United States and Indonesia, as well as his intention to boost cooperation.
In his letter, Obama said there was a lot of room for expansion in science and technology cooperation between the two countries,
“There are many things that Indonesia and the US can do together, ranging from developing renewable energy sources and adaptations to climate change, to tackling contagious diseases and improving education in the field of science and technology, and mathematics,” he stated.
The US president mentioned the few years he had spent in Indonesia during his childhood,
“As you know, I spend several years of my childhood in Indonesia, and this gives Indonesia a special place in my heart,” he said. Obama said he would welcome any intention to boost the partnership.
In his response speech, Yudhoyono said he expected the US and Indonesia could reach more deals in their science and technology partnership during Obama’s planned visit to Indonesia later this year.
Yudhoyono stopped short, however, of revealing the specific date of Obama’s visit.