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Jakarta Post

Three years on, Anies still missing mark: Councillors

  • Sausan Atika

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, October 26, 2020   /   05:06 pm
Three years on, Anies still missing mark: Councillors Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan (center) greets officials after leading a ceremony to commemorate Jakarta's 493rd anniversary at City Hall in Central Jakarta on June 22, 2020. (Antara/Indrianto Eko Suwarso)

With just two years left in office and a long list of campaign promises to fulfill, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has his work cut out for him, with city councillors and experts pointing to subpar city achievements amid a raging COVID-19 outbreak.

The nascent Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), a staunch opposition party to the Anies administration at the Jakarta City Council, said Jakarta under Anies' leadership had failed to set program priorities and lacked transparency in budget planning and implementation.

“Jakarta has a large budget and support from the central government. Do not let the budget, the administration's energy and time be wasted because of mismanagement and lacking priorities,” said Idris Ahmad, PSI faction head at the City Council.

Last year, for instance, PSI councillor William Aditya Sarana leaked information to the public about a Jakarta administration plan to allocate billions of rupiah from the city budget to buy multipurpose glue for school children. This revelation, followed by other irregularities in Jakarta's 2020 budget proposal, drew public criticism and later led to the resignation of two top Jakarta officials. This also backfired on William who was accused of violating the council's code of ethics, while the glue procurement has been on the back burner ever since.

Other councillors were well aware that the COVID-19 pandemic had been derailing much of Jakarta's development programs, but they said the implementation of some of Anies' flagship programs -- the One District One Entrepreneurship (OK OCE) and the zero-rupiah down-payment housing programs -- had been making slow progress long before the health crisis.

“Programs that won much public attention [during the 2017 gubernatorial election campaign] have yet to be optimally carried out,” the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) faction head Gembong Warsono said.

The OK OCE program -- now Jakpreneur -- aims to generate 200,000 new entrepreneurs through training and access to financial aid.

About 181,839 participants had registered to Jakpreneur as of Monday, but the number of people who have obtained business permits or loans remains unclear. Jakarta authorities in charge of the program were not immediately available for comment.

Gembong said the program had “lost its spirit” immediately after the resignation of OK OCE initiator Sandiaga Uno as Anies' deputy governor in August 2018.

Read also: Anies cites achievements, observers say still much to be done

Gembong said it was also “impossible to achieve the goal” to build thousands of affordable apartments under the zero-rupiah down-payment housing program by the end of Anies' tenure.

The scheme aims to provide 14,564 new apartments to be built by city-owned developers by 2022. Yet, only 780 of such low-cost apartments in a complex in Pondok Kelapa, East Jakarta are readily available today.

City-owned developer Pembangunan Sarana Jaya president director Yoory C. Pinontoan said, however, the development of around 2,400 new apartments in East Jakarta remained in progress despite the outbreak.

Over 20,000 people have registered for this particular program in East Jakarta, but less than 500 apartments had been sold as of Oct. 20 because only certain registrants could pass verification by city-owned lender Bank DKI, according to Jakarta Housing and Settlement Agency acting head Sarjoko.

Before the pandemic, much public attention was also focused on how Anies handled floods.

City Council deputy speaker Zita Anjani of the National Mandate Party (PAN) said Jakarta lacked political will to resolve flooding, even after the unprecedented massive floods that hit the capital early this year.

“To date, Jakarta doesn’t have an integrated master plan with clear indicators [of effective flood mitigation],” said Zita, who heads the council's special committee to probe the cause of floods in the city.

Read also: Jakarta, West Java cities brace for floods

Urban analyst Nirwono Joga, meanwhile, warned that some existing projects or ideas Anies had floated recently might violate prevailing regulations. This includes the ongoing upgrading of kampungs and plans to legalize sidewalk vending and create bicycle lanes on inner-city toll roads -- both contravene the central government’s land-use regulations.

“Such a contradiction will set a bad precedent [in urban development],” Nirwono said.

Anies, in June ahead of Jakarta’s anniversary, said his priority was to create an adequate COVID-19 response in the capital and that Jakartans' long struggle against COVID-19 was an opportunity to advance the city’s development. But critics say his approach lacks focus.

Read also: Jakarta lockdown aimed at preventing collapse of healthcare system

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which backed Anies' candidacy in 2017, defended him, saying the pandemic had stretched resources thin. It suggested Anies should instead focus on improving programs that could target population groups badly impacted by COVID-19, like the Jakpreneur and KJP Plus student support programs, as well as traditional market and kampung upgrading.

“The worsening economy will put many people in need of special assistance after the pandemic,” PKS faction head Muhammad Arifin said.

Following projections that the pandemic might cause a massive reduction in city revenues, Anies reportedly submitted later in June a proposal to revise the medium-term regional development plan (RPJMD) -- a Jakarta development blueprint that is supposed to represent much of his campaign promises -- to the City Council. There has been no deliberation yet but councillors have been divided on whether a revision is necessary.

To date, Anies, who was recently named in a survey the strongest potential candidate for the 2024 presidential election, has yet to reveal whether he would seek reelection or run for president.