Jakarta. The slowing economic growth in the country is, among other things, due to the decreasing export value and the increasing import value, especially for food products. “We can make such hard condition to be a chance to boost local productivity to reach the goal of self-sufficiency (swasembada) program,” said Vice President Jusuf Kalla when delivering his keynote speech at the Indonesia Economic Outlook 2016 today at Borobudur Hotel, Jakarta, held by Media Group.

Food import commodities, the Vice President continued, such as rice, corn, beef, and soy, will still resume, yet the import value tends to decrease. By the decreasing import value, according to Mr Kalla, local farmers will have an opportunity to increase their productivity and thus improve their life.

“That is why our budget for agriculture is amplified to improve the quality of seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, and so on,” he said.

He then underlined the importance of efficient economy to win in the global competition.

“We are now in the age of competition. And competition is all about being better, cheaper, and faster,” he said.

To cope with the competition amid the sluggish economy, the Vice President added, everyone should remain optimistic with our local resources, such as big population, rich natural resources, and demographic dividend.

Answering those who are worried with the future of Indonesian economy, the Vice President ensured that this country would subsist and its economy will grow even higher.

“In ASEAN, we are in the middle position. We are below the Philippines, slightly below Malaysia, but above Singapore and Thailand for sure. It means that if we do not manage our economy properly, that position can drop. (This is) not so bad, but not so good position,” he argued.

Mr Kalla further confirmed that the government is committed to constantly promote the growth of national economy.

Finance, energy, infrastructure, and bureaucracy

Still on global competition, the Vice President found it urgent to improve the Indonesian economy by improving four sectors, namely finance, infrastructure, energy, and bureaucracy.

On finance, the Vice President found the country has limited foreign exhange reserves. The incoming foreign exchange, according to him, is not equal to the export values. He hoped there will be an improvement in the mechanism and management of foreign exchange.

“We are too free as a nation. People collected money and save the money in Singapore. We are weakened by our own money,” he said.

On infrastructure, Mr Kalla said, government is currently pushing many development projects as they are closely related to supply and logistics chains in the country.

“We are instructing the Public Works Ministry to build roads as long as possible and trains as many as possible,” he affirmed.

On energy, the Vice President highlighted the importance of energy availability to be sufficient for national industry.

“The price of our energy is not that expensive. It is true that it is more expensive than that of China and Vietnam, but it is cheaper that that of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore,” he said.

On bureaucracy, Mr Kalla pointed out to two things causing ineffective bureaucracy, which are the big number of bureaucrats sparking long bureaucratic lines, and their indecisiveness.

“Since people are worried of committing corruption, they do nothing. This is even detrimental to the nation,” said the Vice President.

Previously, before Mr Kalla came to the stage delivering his remarks, Media Group’s editor-in-chief Saur Hutabarat said its is essential to comprehesively understand the current economic condition to formulate strategic steps for the future. “Whoever does nothing today will not succeed in the future,” said Mr Situmorang.

Governor of Bank of Indonesia Agus Martowardoyo, Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution, Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, and Head of the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Franky Sibarani also attended the event.