Kamis, 21 Maret 2013 | 13:23
Once again, we are confronted with a sad fact that the government seems incapable and slow in managing food and agricultural commoditiesThe soaring price of onions is an irony that still occurs in this country, which is considered rich in terms of natural resources and agricultural products. It completes the turmoil on soybean, sugar, rice imports, and beef imports.
The public were also shocked with the rent-seeking practices behind the turmoil of agricultural commodities, which were conducted by a group of politicians and merchants. Sadly, as revealed in the beef imports case, this practice has been carried out in the name of political interest involving state institutions through political and business collusion.
This raises a question whether the onion price turmoil is also closely related to the political interest behind it? This is a reasonable question and you don’t need to get angry when you hear this question if you’re a politician or government’s official.
Approaching the 2014 General Election, we will deal with negative practices among political elites, involving several of the government officials and ministers, who misuse the government’s budget and trade policies. This is only raises concern over the lack of anticipation from the government against strategic issues that once again reflects a non-governance government.
And then we as ordinary people, heard about President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s anger toward his ministers and his promised that the increase of onion price will not reoccur, is just another example, which in the end only proves that the governance mechanism doesn’t run smoothly.
In this onion scarcity case, for example, President SBY became angry toward the Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Trade because they were considered incapable to carry out coordination.
If we continue to question, we as ordinary people and television audience can also wonder where is the role of the Coordinating Minister in charge of the coordination between the two ministries.
If there is no coordination, it might because of different interest among government agencies and ministries, thus failing to anticipate because of different visions and goals.
Perhaps, the first focus is no longer a matter of securing the food supplies availability, but there are other interests which then hamper the policy effectiveness itself.
One of the concrete examples is the fuel subsidy policy which has yet to be cleared where should the government’s policy lead to. Apparently, policy makers are hampered by momentarily political interest and really concern on their political popularity when taking an unpopular policy.
As a result, the fuel subsidy policy has been uncertain for more than two years, and keeps ‘eating’ the state budget’s capacity to finance other more strategic needs, including infrastructure.
The problem is not only the unclear policy on food and food trading system that triggers the commodities scarcities and uncertain subsidized fuel policy, but also come from gas shortages which experienced by a number of fertilizer factories.
According to Bisnis Indonesia, following a number of earlier concerning issues, gas shortages that occurred lately seems also closely related to the government’s inability to set priorities, by not accusing of practice of political rents in it.
In fact, a number of national fertilizer industries which should have served farmers’ interests had complained of having trouble finding gas, and even if they found, the price has been increased in such a way by the parties that have relation to policy makers.
Yet the available gas is often allocated to foreign market rather than preferring strategic orientation to supply more urgent domestic needs.
Therefore, we should be concerned that such rents patterns will continue to happen ahead of 2014 election. And those patterns are facilitated by the absence of government that can govern with focused, strategic, and quick decisions.
Of course, we don’t what this to happen. We want a more focused, strategic, and quickly-acted government, not government which always late to anticipate and prefers to confide after problems occur. (T06/T07/aph)