Monday, April 25, 2011


     Jakarta, April 25, 2011 (ANTARA) - Vice President Boediono led a function to observe the 15th anniversary of Regional Autonomy Day in Bogor, West Java, Monday (April 25). Regional Autonomy Day was also commemorated in regions throughout the country.
       Regional Autonomy Day is observed every April 25, based on e Presidential Decree No. 11/1996 on Regional Autonomy. This year`s theme is "With the Spirit of Regional Autonomy, We Improve the Regional Administration Implementation Performance in Public Services and Regional Innovation."

      Indonesia, a country with more than 17,500 islands and a population of aroud 237 million started to implement regional autonomy in 2000. Regional autonomy was implemented based on Law 22/1999 on Regional Autonomy which was proposed by the then BJ Habibie administration and passed by the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) in May 1999. Later, Law 25 on intergovernmental fiscal relations was also passed.
       Some experts described regional autonomy in Indonesia as the world`s largest political decentralization project. Nearly 2 million civil servants were transferred from central government to districts and municipalities levels, along with authority over more than 40 percent of government expenditures and more than 60 percent of the national development budget.
      Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi in his speech on the occasion of the 15th Regional Autonomy Day in Bogor said since the application of decentralization policy and regional autonomy as of 2000, there have been three drastic principal changes.
      Regional autonomy had improved the implementation of democratization, freedom of expression and assembly, and cut long bureaucratic processes so that public services could be delivered more efficiently and responsively. And regional administrations can manage and exploit their economic potentials and boost their economic activities.
      However, the minister believed some improvements still needed to be made in the implementation of regional autonomy.
      The government was currently drawing up a grand design to improve regional autonomy so that new autonomous regions could be be created with better planning and more smoothly in the future.
      He added that the central government was also in the process of improving the regional head election system which had become inefficient and too costly.
      Over the past ten years, 205 new autonomous regions had been formed, consisting of new seven provinces, 164 districts and 34 cities.
       Up to late 2009, the country`s total autonomous regions reached 399 districts (kabupaten), 98 municipalities, and 33 provinces.
     The minister believed regional autonomy had given solution to boost regional development progress as it had encouraged creativity and innovation.
        During its implementation over the past decade, regional autonomy had changed the implementation of regional administrations to become more dynamic, he said.
       Regional economies had grown and developed progressively based on the respective regional resource potentials and local wisdom, he added.
       Despite the improving economic growth in the regions, the concrete impact of regional autonomy on the improvement of people?s welfare has yet to to be seen.
      An academician from East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), for instance, said that the establishment of new autonomous regions in his province has done nothing to improve the welfare of the peoples concerned.
     "What we can see clearly as a result of the establishment of the new autonomous regions is physical development but the people`s welfare which is supposed to be the objective of the new autonomous regions` establishment is still stagnant," Nicolaus Pira Bunga of the University of Cendana (Undana) said in Kupang, the capital of NTT Province, Monday (April 25).
       He explained that nearly 60-70 percent of the regional budget of newly set-up regions came from the general allocation funds (DAU) and the special allocation funds (DAK) provided by the central government for the development in the new regions.
        "Considering the development budget composition, nearly 80 percent of the autonomy implementation in NTT could be seen as a failure because the regional income is very minimal to support the development of its people," Pira Bunga said.
       He asked the government to set a target for each region to improve the people`s welfare by not depending on DAU and DAK.
       NTT has six new autonomous regions, namely Lembata District (formerly part of Flores Timur district), Rote Ndao District (formerly in Kupang district), Nagekeo District (former in Ngada district), Sumba Barat Daya District (formerly Sumba Barat District), Sumba Tengah District (former in Sumba Timur District), and Sabu Raijua District (formerly in Kupang District).
       The NTT provincial administration has proposed the establishment of Adonara District on Adonara Isle which is currently part of Flores Timur, and Maumere (the capital of Sikka District) to become a municipality, as well as Malaka Barat in Belum Selatan.
       Considering the failure of the newly established regions, Pira urged for a review of the plan to form the newly proposed three regions. He even questioned whether it was purely the wish of the people or the interest of certain elites.
      "Many of the autonomous regions have failed to improve the people`s welfare because their formations were full of political engineering and vested interests so they have failed to achieve the targets as expected," he said.
        The increasing demands for establishments of new regions have indeed created new problems to the country and prompted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to call for a moratorium on formation of new autonomous regions in 2009.
        In August 2010, President Yudhoyono reminded that Indonesia had adopted the decentralization or regional autonomy concept in order to optimize development in each and every region as mandated by the reform movement.
     "But although we have adopted decentralization, we remain a unitary state and the President is the head of the government," Yudhoyono said when opening the 3rd National Working Meeting at the Bogor Palace last year.
       President Yudhoyono asked all regional leaders to better comprehend the unitary state concept in order to avoid mistakes in implementing regional autonomy. Regional autonomy had produced concrete results but had also had a number of negative impacts, he said.
       The head of state also reminded regional leaders not to make mistakes in preparing their regional budgets, and not to abuse the decentralization system in the other fields such as political, legal, security, and people`s welfare.
(T. F001/A/HAJM/23:55/f001)
(T.F001/A/F001/F001) 26-04-2011 00:01:51

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