“The most important thing in 2018 we will focus on is reducing inequality,” Dr Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia’s Minister of National Development Planning has exclusively told GovInsider.

To achieve this, local governments must improve citizens’ participation in budgeting and decision-making, he said.

“To reduce inequality, especially at the local level, the spirit of open government will be required, simply because the local government needs to know what will be the main priority from their citizens,” he added.

“Every local government needs to be very much involved by having their residents participating,” Minister Brodjonegoro said. “The way to do that is by having so-called public hearings and town hall meetings, so they can get their aspirations.”

Officials must also work with civil society organisations “to voice the needs of the people”, he added.
Brodjonegoro was speaking to GovInsider at the Asia Pacific Leaders Forum, which was run by the Open Government Partnership and Open Government Secretariat in the Indonesian President’s Office.

The Minister holds up Bojonegoro Regency as an example of success in Indonesia. It was previously one of the poorest districts in the East Java Province, and with a newly discovered oil reserve in the region, ran the risk of corruption.

The Regency has encouraged citizens to have a say in how these earnings should be invested in the community. It set up town halls where people communicate face-to-face with the government, and the conversations are broadcast live to the wider community. It is allowing people to take part in planning, budgeting and monitoring of village funds, and improving the transparency of procurement documents.

The Regent of Bojonegoro “pursues sustainability because he knows that this oil-producing status will end someday”, the Minister explained.

While face-to-face communications through town halls have proved successful for local governments, they must also be “active to promote the use of social media” to engage citizens, he said. “In the digital era, of course, technology is the most efficient way to open the communication.”

Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro will be the the Guest of Honour at GovPay, GovInsider’s finance, data and citizen engagement summit on 23 January 2018 in Jakarta.

Register here to attend the summit, which is free for all public sector officials.

GovInsider was the official media partner of the Asia Pacific Leaders Forum.