Indonesian president  Joko Widodo lays out reform agenda

Jakarta:  Indonesian President Joko Widodo has unveiled an economic agenda, which includes plans to boost domestic production, spur growth and improve the fiscal balance.

The new government would implement a different approach in developing the economy, Jokowi said Thursday, adding that he sought to reform what he called the “wrong” public policy approach undertaken by his predecessors, The Jakarta Post reported.

Indonesia, which currently relies on imports to meet strong domestic demand, would strive to secure sovereignty in food and energy, while also paying special attention to maritime-based infrastructure, the president said during the National  Development Planning Conference here.

The concept of food sovereignty, also known as import-substitution policy, has been criticised by many foreign economists and international organisations, including the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

They have argued that it would be economically inefficient for a country to push its industries to manufacture goods that they are not accustomed to producing, while it is actually cheaper to import from  overseas in the globalised world economy.

“I will directly oversee this country becoming self-sufficient in rice, having no more rice imports within three years,” Jokowi said.

“We are rich in rice, sugar, soybeans, corn and other commodities. We have the potential and the ability to secure food sovereignty — the prospect to be independent is there, but we have not yet implemented the correct public policy,” he added.

During the conference, the economic ministers also delivered presentations that set out ambitious goals such as spurring economic growth to eight percent and reducing the budget deficit to one percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2019.

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