Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Govt bureaucratic reform initiative stalling: Experts

Govt bureaucratic reform initiative stalling: Experts

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Experts say that the government has made little progress, if any at all, in its efforts to reform the bureaucracy 14 years after the start of the reform movement.

They also warned that nothing will have been achieved by the end of the year when the government’s two-year plan to accelerate bureaucratic reform expires.

“The 1998 reform movement started 14 years ago but the bureaucratic reform has not run its course as it should have done. What we have now is far from good enough,” Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the head of the Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4) said on Tuesday.

Kuntoro said that the complacency and inertia that especially plagued some ministries had contributed to the setback in the process of reform.

“The fact of the matter is that some bureaucrats have stayed in their ministries for far too long and this has delayed reform plans that have been laid out in the 2025 grand design for bureaucratic reform.”

He said that the bureaucratic reform had failed to achieve progress in three areas; oversight of political leaders, control of budget disbursement and the creation of an open government.

Kuntoro gave as an example one of the biggest problems plaguing most ministries; the fact that they do not even know how to monitor their own budgets.

“Our efforts are aimed at providing them with a better understanding of the importance of budget monitoring as part of reforming the bureaucracy,” he said.

Earlier, Administrative Reforms Minister Azwar Abubakar said that inefficient management, a sluggish culture and corruption were among the challenges faced by the Indonesian government in launching bureaucratic reform.

“An efficient bureaucracy can support the infrastructure development in this country, therefore bureaucratic reform is very important,” he said in his speech to open the Bureaucratic Reform Conference, Exhibition and Stakeholder Meeting on Monday.

Sofian Effendi, a former head of the State Personnel Administration Body (BAKN), said that the government could be faulted for the lack of progress in bureaucratic reform as it had adopted the wrong strategy in pursuing its goals.

“Most of the ministries think that bureaucratic reform means reform of the remuneration system of government employees. In fact this has nothing to do with building the capacity of the human resources,” he said.

Sofian said that the ministries’ preoccupation with a better remuneration system had only aggravated the problem.

“This step only creates a very high-cost bureaucracy with a very low productivity, and this will soon bankrupt the country,” he added.

Sofian said that by 2019 there would be a total of 4.7 million civil servant retirees who would cost the government Rp 168 trillion (US$17.6 billion) in pensions.

“Expenditure on paying the salaries of civil servants makes up 40 percent of the state budget and 65 percent of the local budget. There is so little left for public services and capital expenditure,” he said.

Sofian said that the government could renew its efforts on reforming the bureaucracy by making drastic changes.

“What the government could do is to change the performance culture, implement organizational streamlining, deal with bottlenecks in the drafting of regulation and simplify management procedures,” he said.

Kuntoro said that in spite of all the problems plaguing the bureaucracy, bureaucratic reform could still have the chance to succeed.

“We can see the agents of change everywhere, one of the examples is the Traffic Management Center [TMC] by the Jakarta Police which can provide real-time information on the traffic situation on the social media. It may be a very small step in improving public services, but it means we still have hope,” he said. (nad)

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