Thu, 16 Jul 2009
From: The Jakarta Post
By Erwida Maulia, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The government and lawmakers have been urged to reevaluate the regional autonomy policy, which in 10 years has led to the creation of more than 200 new regions which have not always improved conditions for local communities.

The executive director of the Regional Administration Innovation Foundation (YIPD), Alit Merthayasa, on Wednesday said the creation of new regions, while drawing money from the central government, inevitably led to a reduction in the amount of funds disbursed to existing regions.

“New autonomous regions need large sums of money to finance infrastructure, public facilities and government offices, and to pay the salaries of new regional heads and their staff, and councilors.

“Meanwhile, other regions not involved in the creation of these new regions will see smaller portions of the general allocation funds [DAU] from the central government,” Alit told a discussion here. The amount of DAU was not increased in line with increases in the number of regions, he added.

While many new regions were created for the sake of, among other things, simplifying administrative procedures for public services, in many cases these services ended up worse off because of typical fund management inefficiency and the lack of human resources endemic to new regions, Alit said.

Robert Endi Jaweng from the Working Group on Regional Autonomy said in the first five years, new regions would usually undergo an administrative transition period, during which development agendas left by past administrations had to be delayed.

Typically, the poor capacity of new administrations meant new regions’ aspirations for faster economic growth ended in slower growth instead, he said.

A professor in planology from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Tommy Firman, said despite aims to settle conflicts, newly-formed regions often engaged in conflicts with neighbors, for example over water resources and other strategic needs.

“And we’ve seen many powerful elites emerge in regions and more corrupt leaders than we had
previously.

“We’ve often heard news about these regents getting questioned by the KPK [Corruption Eradication Commission], being imprisoned, etc,” Tommy said.

Since the enactment of the regional autonomy law in 1999, Indonesia has seen seven new provinces and 196 new regencies and municipalities. This brings Indonesia’s total number of provinces to 33 and regencies/municipalities to 491 (from 26 and 293 before 1999).

Speakers at the Wednesday discussion entitled “Creation of New Regions and Democracy in Indonesia” agreed that forming new regions should not be forbidden, but that policy makers should first conduct comprehensive evaluations of the implementation of the policy and regulation tools that support it.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called for a moratorium on the creation of new administrative regions, following the death of North Sumatra council speaker Abdul Aziz Angkat in
February.

Abdul died from a heart attack just hours after a mob assaulted him during a violent protest to demand the creation of a new province, Tapanuli.

House of Representatives speaker Agung Laksono has said in response to Yudhoyono that the regional autonomy police do need to be reevaluated.



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