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Jakarta Post

Back to work

  • Editorial Board

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, June 10, 2019   /   08:49 am
Back to work Back to reality: Drivers queue to enter the Roro ship at the Bakauheni port in Lampung on Saturday. These drivers are returning to Java after celebrating Ramadan in their hometowns in Sumatra. (Antara/Ardiansyah)

Westbound traffic congestion on the trans-Java toll road on the weekend marked the return flow of Idul Fitri holiday revelers leaving for their places of residence. Their week-long holiday has come to a close and their daily routines await them.

The whole nation is back to business after the biggest Islamic festival, which saw the circulation of money shift from Jakarta and other major cities to rural areas, came to an end.

Surely, the long Idul Fitri holiday from June 3 to 7, although in practice it started on May 31, was sufficient and there should be no reason to skip the office on Monday. The authorities did a lot, though maybe not enough, to ensure holidaymakers enjoyed their journey home.

For the first time ever, a one-way and counterflow traffic system was put in place along most parts of the trans-Java toll road to curb gridlocks. In general, the Idul Fitri exodus and return flow this year was less congested and saw fewer accidents and casualties than previous years thanks to traffic management.

One week of reunion with members of the big family and old friends is deemed adequate to fully recharge our batteries or find new spirit to deal with upcoming challenges. Idul Fitri is only one of so many national holidays dotting the country’s calendar, regardless of the long-standing concern about Indonesia’s manpower productivity that has remained below Southeast Asian neighbors Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Long holidays like Idul Fitri, therefore, are expected to inspire the workforce to boost productivity with a view of stiffer competition in the global market. A warning has come from the likes of National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro, who said that failure to close in on ASEAN neighbors in terms of productivity would foil the country’s bid to join the high income group and plunge us into the middle-income trap.

The demand for higher productivity is more justified when it comes to those in the public sector. More than 4.3 million civil servants have received Idul Fitri bonuses amounting to one month’s salary.

The carrot, however, is not given for free as the government is now getting tough with civil servants as part of its efforts to build a professional, performing and competitive bureaucracy. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo signed late in April Government Regulation No. 30/2019 on civil servant appraisal, which allows the government to dismiss nonperforming state employees. On the contrary, those who fulfill, let alone exceed, the targets will be entitled to salary raises and promotions.

The regulation implements Law No. 5/2014 on the civil state apparatus, which envisions a merit-based bureaucracy using clear, objective key performance indicators rather than likes and dislikes as happened in the past.

Hopes are high that on Monday public services will not only resume but also move into full swing. All the incentives, facilities and punitive measures, not to mention refreshed spirits, should help the bureaucracy make a difference.