Bambang Brodjonegoro: National Dialogue Needed on Inequality

Indonesia needs a national dialogue to meaningfully address the increasingly urgent problem of inequality, according to Minister for National Development Planning (BAPPENAS) Bambang Brodjonegoro.

“In addressing inequality, we cannot have a one-size-fits-all attitude or policy. We must adapt our approach and our programs to suite local conditions and involve local communities,” the minister said.

For this reason, BAPPENAS will host a two-day international conference called the Indonesia Development Forum on August 9-10 in Jakarta. Supported by the Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI), a joint program between the governments of Indonesia and Australia, it aims to create a national platform to discuss challenges and generate new ideas on development and to seek innovative solutions together.

“The Indonesia Development Forum is a national platform that will enable us to have a national dialogue on the subject of development. It will help us to create a national vision for the nation and strengthen the social fabric of the nation,” the minister said.

President Joko Widodo has in fact stated that that reducing the wealth inequality gap is one of the top priorities for the government this year.

“We have to work hard, work ourselves to death to reduce our inequality rates, including the inequality between regions and between the rich and the poor,” the president said at the first cabinet meeting in January this year.

Bappenas, as the ministry in charge of national development, is leading the efforts to achieve the goal set by the president.

To jump-start a national dialogue, BAPPENAS initiated a Call for Papers on 11 sub-themes related to inequality. From 555 entries received from across Indonesia and abroad, 44 papers were selected to be presented and discussed at this year’s IDF.

“This is how BAPPENAS will engage the Indonesian public so that we can have a diversity of views and perhaps come up with new innovative solutions,” the minister said.

“It is important that we embrace the complexity that is Indonesia. We are a country of many ethnic groups, religions and socio-economic levels. But if we can turn this complexity and diversity into an asset, we will be much stronger.”