Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ministers are busy with Window Dressing

Annus Horribilis! Yes. What a horrible first-year in office for president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and VP Jusuf Kalla. Tsunami had killed 120,000 people and devastated Aceh and Nias in Northern tip of Sumatra Island. Avian flu outbreak has claimed human lives. Skyrocketing international oil price pushed government to scrap the 30-yeard old subsidy and hike domestic fuel price twice. Bank interest rates increased, inflation back to double-digit, and rupiah had depreciated significantly. Economic growth target missed. And then tourist heaven island of Bali had been rocked by terrorist bomb for second time with new style in suicide bombing.

Those are facts that been blamed for poor economic performance. People aware of these miseries but people demanding a cabinet reshuffle because they saw poor policy respond from ministers. Their public statements were also horrible. While their boss keep talk in a campaign-style speeches and the deputy always confronting public’s opinion, which sparked further the controversy, the ministers talked to people as if nothing happened.

One-year mark has been passed on October 20, 2005. We’re waiting president SBY deliver his promise to reshuffle his cabinet. It is interesting to mention here some ministers’ last move to polish their image before submitting their one-year report. This is what I call a Window Dressing.

VP Jusuf Kalla defended economic team saying they are better than previous cabinet of Megawati Soekarnoputri, while former MPR speaker Amien Rais said the team is worse than Megawati’s.

Chief Economic Minister Aburizal Bakrie said the economy is improved with higher growth than last year saying his team had worked hard during trouble times. His staff sent photographs of his appearance as speaker in a conference in Philippines before President Arroyo and had been published by some newspapers. After being summoned by SBY at his house in Cikeas, Bakrie told the press that there are 1.5 new jobs created for the whole year, almost double from last year’s 900,000, while people believes that more and more people out of job market.
Bakrie said investment has grown by 300% this year, but Bank Indonesia data shown only US$1 billion of net capital inflow, slightly higher than last year.

Finance Minister Jusuf Anwar published a memoir on his first-year claiming all targets met. In the morning of October 20, he managed to have president SBY to officially give the 10th million-tax number to a man at State Palace. This is a huge leap from 3.5 million numbers since Indonesian independence.

SOE Minister Sugiharto claimed next year's dividend from state-owned enterprises to be doubled and there is no need for privatization to fill the budget deficit. The ministry's privatization target this year is Rp3.5 trillion (US$350 million) and Sugiharto got zero so far.

Education Affairs Minister Bambang Sudibyo published one full page advetorial in Kompas today (probably for more than Rp100 million or USD10,000) about his accomplishment in one year in office at the time when so many school buildings destroyed for various reasons and a lot of students can't afford to enroll to higher education.

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