Interview: Jakarta’s development planning chief

How the city will improve planning, track spending and fund new infrastructure.

In order to cut corruption, Jakarta wants citizens to see every step taken when the city makes its budgets. The Governor has given this sensitive task to Tuty Kusumawati, his planning chief. She has been in the civil service for 29 years, but this is her toughest challenge yet, she says, and a priority for this year. Kusumawati is head of Jakarta’s Regional Development Planning Board (Bappeda) and has two other priorities this year: to track government spending and plan a massive new reclamation project. Citizens to track budget planning Kusumawati must ensure that agencies start to publish every change in their budgetary plans to reduce corruption and fraud. “We will discuss whether the proposed activities are priorities or not, and what is the reason that they proposed them,” she explains. “This will all be done online. It is open for everybody to give us suggestions and comments on the process,” she adds. She hopes to identify and fund only those projects that will benefit the city and its residents. For the project to be a success, she has to get support from legislators and officials. The city council last year “refused and rejected the approach”, Kusumawati said. Some agencies have also not been cooperative, where officials have only submitted the final budgets instead of publishing every change. Jakarta has also launched an online participatory budgeting scheme called e-musrenbang where citizens can propose projects for the city budget. The details of the proposals are published on the city’s open data portal - who proposed which project, for how much, location of the project, and whether the project was accepted in the city budget. Dashboard for government projects The second priority is to track how much money agencies need and for which projects. In the next two to three months, Bappeda will create a public dashboard showing data on government infrastructure and services from across all agencies, she says. For example, it could show how many school buildings the city has, when they were built, and what changes are needed in the future. This data will allow Bappeda to plan how much money to spend on new and existing school infrastructure. The data will also help Kusumawati ensure that government subsidies are reaching the right people. For instance, the city provides a poor students with a card to buy school supplies, but some sell them for cash. “We need the right data to ensure that the right target group is using the card,” she says. “All agencies will have to contribute to the dashboard”. Jakarta’s biggest challenge Her third priority this year is a planned reclamation of 17 islands along the city’s northern coast. “The biggest challenge for the city is limited land”, Kusumawati believes. 70% of Jakarta’s 662 square kilometres are already in use and this project will add 51 square kilometres of new land. Three of the islands will form a new port and logistics hub for Jakarta and its neighbouring provinces of Banten, West Java and Central Java. The remaining islands will have a mix of residential and office buildings. At least a third of each island’s area will be open green space and 5% will be water bodies. 750,000 to 1.4 million people will live on the islands. Most of the city’s infrastructure is funded by the government, but it wants the private sector and state-owned companies to jointly invest in the reclamation project. “We are targeting the international market so we need the involvement of the private sector. We also need to improve our local government company to compete with other companies worldwide,” Kusumawati says. The city has already announced plans to work with the Netherlands’ Rotterdam city government to build the port. The country’s Rabobank is also interested in investing in the port, which is expected to cost IDR 134 trillion (US$9.7 billion). City-owned property developer Jakarta Propertindo, central government-owned port operator Pelindo II and industrial property developer Kawasan Berikat Nusantara will also be involved in the project. This project could transform Jakarta’s skyline and economy in the years to come but in the meantime, Kusumawati must ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent in the right places. Her 2016 will be dedicated to opening up the city, both digitally, and - through land reclamation - quite literally as well.