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Jakarta Post

Traveling with small group, Jokowi pushes for efficiency

  • Rendi A. Witular

    The Jakarta Post

Beijing   /   Mon, November 10, 2014   /  09:42 am

President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo has walked his plan on fiscal austerity during his first presidential trip overseas.

Unlike his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Jokowi has done away with the nonessentials that would only make his overseas trip entourage huge and inefficient.

The President embarked on a nine-day trip on Saturday that includes visits to Beijing, China, to attend the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit; Naypyidaw, Myanmar, for the ASEAN summit; and Brisbane, Australia, for a G20 gathering.

Flying on the presidential aircraft purchased during Yudhoyono'€™s presidential tenure, Jokowi'€™s main travel group only consists of 51 people, including 13 journalists.

The figure is far fewer than Yudhoyono'€™s usual entourage, which usually consisted of at least 90 people.

On top of that, Yudhoyono'€™s detail also included an advance team consisting of around 20 people.

Aside from taking his two sons, Yudhoyono also had a personal masseuse and several hairstylists for First Lady Ani Yudhoyono traveling in the main group.

According to a House of Representatives hearing, Yudhoyono'€™s administration spent at least Rp 200 billion (US$16.5 million) annually on domestic and overseas trips.

Aimed at breaking away from decade-long inefficiency, Jokowi has taken along only relevant ministers and officials to the prestigious events.

'€œPak Jokowi wants us to bring less people to cut spending,'€ said Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto late on Saturday.

'€œI don'€™t know how big the budget for the trip is, but the headcount is far fewer than during Yudhoyono'€™s tenure when his entourage could reach more than 100 people,'€ said Andi, who accompanied Yudhoyono on his trip.

Along with Andi, the President is also accompanied by First Lady Iriana, daughter Kahiyang Ayu, Coordinating Economic Minister Sofyan Djalil, Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi, and foreign affairs observer Rizal Sukma of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Jokowi initially planned to stay at the Indonesian Embassy'€™s guest house in Beijing, but opted out of doing so on security concerns.

As China is responsible for the security of the visiting President, the country'€™s security personnel must be permitted to enter the embassy should Jokowi insist on staying there, thus harming the sovereignty of the compound.

Jokowi and his entourage checked-in at the nearby Kempinski hotel instead.

Based on his itinerary, Jokowi will not go on any sightseeing excursions, a stark contrast to Yudhoyono, who used to allocate time to visit historical sites while visiting a foreign country.

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