Strengthen regional government authority to equalize development

Currently, equal development is a utopian ideal that not only developing countries are trying to achieve, but also many advanced nations.

They are still struggling to eliminate the inequalities that exist in their respective nations in order to achieve a more harmonious civic life.

The drive to eliminate inequalities led to the creation of 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Various nations around the world are helping each other to achieve a world without inequalities.

Since Joko Widodo became President of the Republic of Indonesia, he has led various concrete efforts to eliminate inequalities.

The ongoing infrastructure development in various remote areas demonstrates the government‘s commitment to improving connectivity.

As economics expert Claudia Berg has written, roads are the arteries through which the economy thrives.

The ability of the president to achieve infrastructure development in remote areas shows how strong the central government‘s authority is when it comes to managing the outermost, remote and underdeveloped areas.

However, despite the various innovations unveiled by the central government, the improvement in prosperity in the outermost, remote and underdeveloped areas of Indonesia has not been significant.

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According to province and region-based Poverty Severity Index (P2) data released by Statistics Indonesia (BPS) on January 17, 2022, there were five provinces with the highest poverty severity.

These five provinces include West Papua (2.18%), Papua (2.05%), East Nusa Tenggara (1.44%), Maluku (1.06%) and Aceh (0.81%). ).

The percentage of severity of poverty in these five provinces increases compared to the previous semester.

For example, in the previous semester (March 2021), West Papua was at 1.96%. However, in the following semester (September 2021), the figure rose to 2.18%.

Observing the inequality of prosperity in the outermost, remote and underdeveloped regions of Indonesia, Siti Zuhro, research professor at the National Agency for Research and Innovation (BRIN), Siti Zuhro, believed that this was due to the dependence of regional governments on the central government.

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Regional government authority

Law No. 43 of 2008 on the territory of the nation leads to the dependence of regional governments on the central government, said Zuhro.

The law granted extensive authority to the central government to manage the border areas.

This condition is reflected in Article 10, point (1) letter aj of the law, which describes the various central government authorities in the management of the territory of the State and the border areas.

According to Zuhro, the law results in regional governments having limited or inadequate powers to manage their regions.

The authority of the central government aims to develop the border areas in a balanced, integrated and comprehensive manner for the prosperity of the people as well as to ensure harmony between the regions.

However, there are issues that should be dealt with by regional governments without having to go through complicated bureaucracy.

This is particularly important to deal with the complexity of the problems faced by border areas.

These problems require a comprehensive resolution that encompasses several aspects such as national border, social, culture, defense, security, natural resources and environment, institutions and capacity development.

The complexity of the issues requires a quick and accurate response, Zuhro noted.

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Since the regional governments are far from the reach of the central government, it will certainly be difficult for the central government to provide the necessary response to deal with these issues.

To this end, she believes it is important that regional governments have as strong an authority as the central government in the management of their regions.

Regulatory harmonization

To advance the outermost, remote and underdeveloped regions, especially for the border areas, it is not enough for the central government to increase the budget and undertake development.

The central government should ensure the certainty of the regulations which have become the technical umbrella and the reference in the realization of the matters which have become the authority of the border areas.

Harmonization of regulations has therefore become what Indonesia needs. The harmonization of regulations will bring clarity and certainty to regional governments in carrying out their task.

Two main laws have become benchmarks, namely Law No. 43 of 2008 on National Territory and Law No. 23 of 2014 on Regional Government.

According to Zuhro, one of the issues that needs to be enforced is the regulation on the status of border areas as a matter of general government which involves ministries and institutions.

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This is also vertical in nature between the center, provinces, districts and cities.

The suggestion is also linked to Article 9 of Law 43/2008 which states that the government and regional governments have the power to manage and use the border and restricted areas.

Regarding funding, Zuhro said that the regional budget (APBD) of each border area should be involved in addition to the state budget (APBN) and the village budget (APBDesa).

In addition, she proposed that there be a change in the products of regional law as well as a refocusing to carry out the general affairs of government, especially in dealing with the crucial issues of the border areas.

The other recommendation involved additional material for regional governments on people empowerment, national perspectives, good governance, regional competitiveness, innovation in public services and spreading the digitization of bureaucracy.

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By building the capacity of the people and regional governments, Zuhro believes that the outermost, remote and underdeveloped regions of Indonesia can develop.

The independence of a regional government and its people is key to a region’s progress, especially for areas far from the reach of the central government, she said.

However, as a unitary state, the principle of decentralization and regional autonomy must still take into account the unity of the nation.

Indonesia, as a unitary state, does not have a clear regional division like in a federal nation.

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The regions of Indonesia are united with each other. Therefore, the regions of Indonesia cannot be divided and are an integral part of Indonesia, Zuhro said.

With this, collectivity and harmony in action between the central government and the regional governments is a very important element to avoid excessive dependence.

However, coordination between the central government and regional governments remains crucial.

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