The ‘Big Bang’ Program and its Economic Consequences
Edited by James Alm, Jorge Martinez-Vazquez and Sri Mulyani Indrawati
Chapter 11: Indonesian Decentralization: Opportunities Appear but Risks Abound
Marsillam Simandjuntak INTRODUCTION Let me say right from the beginning that the importance of the decentralization process would be assumed as an unavoidable necessity in Indonesia. It has become one among the few solutions to Indonesian national problems, if not the only one left. Hence the interrogative form of the question ‘Can decentralization help rebuild Indonesia?’ should be turned into a positive statement: the problems of rebuilding Indonesia can be solved through only decentralization. The emerging questions here are how will the decentralization itself be implemented, what is to be done, what are the requirements that must be fulﬁlled, and what are the obstacles that can impede the decentralization? It is these questions that I will examine in this chapter. NATIONAL PROBLEMS, REGIONAL SOLUTIONS I will try to formulate what seems to have become a kind of belief as follows: through decentralization various national problems can be solved at regional level by using local means to cope with local challenges. Of course, this belief immediately incites criticism, since factual observation in the regions that have recently enjoyed autonomy shows little evidence of low-level management’s ability to solve problems. What can be seen in many of the decentralized regions is a high level of administrative disarray, which in some cases has almost brought them to the brink of chaotic conditions, examples of which have been discussed elsewhere in this volume. If these accounts are correct, then they would seem to cast doubt on the necessity or, better, the effectiveness...
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