The Jakarta Post
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has reiterated his commitment to building
infrastructure on the outskirts of developed areas and in villages outside Java,
allocating Rp 314 trillion (US$22.5 billion) in 2016 state funds to promote
equitable development, especially in remote and border areas.
At a recent Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) working meeting in Jakarta, Jokowi readdressed two crucial problems that the government must resolve through non-Javacentric development, namely inequality among regions and wide gaps in the prices of goods.
For example, Premium gasoline in Jakarta is tagged at Rp 7,000 per liter, but in Wamena, Papua, the price can soar to around Rp 60,000 per liter.
"Here [in Jakarta], each sack of cement is priced at Rp 60,000, but in the Papua highlands the price is around Rp 1 million to Rp 2.5 million per sack because of the lack of infrastructure. We must resolve this imbalance," Jokowi said.
The President described the lack of infrastructure in Papua based on his visit to Nduga regency, where roads remain unpaved. "It took four days to travel from Nduga to Wamena," he said, ordering the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry and the Army to surface the roads soon.
"If Nduga is connected by road, prices [of goods] will drop by half," he said, adding that the government not only paid attention to road infrastructure in remote and underdeveloped areas, but also in border areas.
Further, Jokowi explained that infrastructure development such as dams, reservoirs and ports would also increase the competitiveness of national products. Irrigation, he said, was key to food security in the future.
Likewise, he underlined that ports were also crucial to improving competitiveness. "Ports are key because two-thirds of our territory is water," he added.
To boost infrastructure, according to Jokowi, the government would take over projects that had faced delays for years, such as the trans-Sumatra toll road. In April 2015, Jokowi attended the groundbreaking of the 2,700-kilometer toll road that will connect Lampung with Aceh, after a 10-year tender.
Meanwhile, to develop villages, the government has increased the village fund allocation in the state budget from Rp 20.7 trillion in 2015 to Rp 46.98 trillion in 2016.
"I have ordered that large amounts of village funds be used to create as many jobs as possible, and to buy items such as sand and stones so the money will circulate in the villages," Jokowi said. (ags)
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