Yudhoyono’s MP3EI could end up on the chopping block

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Sat, August 16 2014

Massive projects worth hundreds of trillions of rupiah under the Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development (MP3EI) may be terminated under the administration of president-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, his aide has said.

Members of Jokowi’s so-called transition team had begun evaluating MP3EI projects and identifying a number of projects under the scheme that could be discontinued, said Andi Widjajanto, one of the team’s four deputies.

“Jokowi’s government will be based on the Trisakti ideology. Therefore, MP3EI projects that are not consistent with the ideology will be eliminated,” Andi said on Thursday.

Andi was referring to the ideology formulated by the country’s first president, Sukarno, the father of Megawati Soekarnoputri, who chairs the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) to which Jokowi belongs. Trisakti or “The Three Powers” covers “political sovereignty, economic independence and national character”.

Andi refused to give details on which projects would be discontinued but said that the revision of MP3EI projects was aimed at providing fiscal room for Jokowi to realize his campaign promises, particularly those centering on strengthening the country’s maritime sector.

“We are evaluating whether the MP3EI infrastructure projects are consistent with Jokowi’s maritime axis concept. Generally, we can see that the projects under the MP3EI growth corridors don’t focus on maritime infrastructure, while Jokowi wants to make integrative maritime transportation the main pillar to connect the archipelago,” Andi said.

“Those kinds of projects will be revised to accommodate more maritime-centered projects such as the sea highway. When it comes to transportation, sea is the first priority, land is second,” he added.

The MP3EI is an ambitious plan by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono aimed at accelerating development projects in hopes of the country achieving developed-country status by 2025. It covers two main sectors, infrastructure and the real sector.

In his last state address at the House of Representatives on Friday, President Yudhoyono boasted of more than 382 projects — comprising 208 infrastructure projects and 174 real sector projects — with a value of no less than Rp 854 trillion (US$73.13 billion) having been implemented since the government launched the MP3EI in 2011.

He acknowledged, however, that challenges remained, especially in infrastructure projects.

“Many infrastructure projects have been put on hold — even halted — due to political, bureaucratic or logistical reasons. These continue to pose a huge challenge, since it will be impossible for Indonesia to become Asia’s economic giant without more complete, quality and modern infrastructure,” Yudhoyono said.

“With the MP3EI, we hope there will be many centers of new economic growth and new infrastructure throughout Indonesia.”

This year alone, the government is set to undertake 12 MP3EI projects worth Rp 26.89 trillion, according to the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas).

Jokowi, who also attended the House plenary session, signaled that he was eager to continue Yudhoyono’s unfinished projects.

“The most important point he delivered [in his speech] is that he will be ready to help the [newly] elected president, meaning that the transition will go well,” Jokowi told reporters after the event. “Those existing problems, for example, those half-completed or not yet completed, can be presented to the president-elect.”

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