Indonesian presidential camps touch on nationalism in economy, different formulas to achieve equality

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - The fifth and last presidential debate on Saturday touched on the issue of nationalism in the economy as well as inequality, but all it showed was a difference of opinion on how to reach them.

The fifth and last presidential debate on Saturday touched on the issue of nationalism in the economy as well as inequality, but all it showed was a difference of opinion on how to reach them.

The Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Ma’ruf Amin’s camp preferred a broad outlook, while the Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno camp championed a bottom-up policymaking process.

“Macroeconomy is not microeconomy,” said Jokowi during the debate. “It is impossible to formulate policies based on one or two people who tell you about their hardships. A macroeconomy does not work like that.

Jokowi was responding to Sandiaga who said most people, predominantly housewives, complained about high food and energy prices.

“First, I would like to apologize to Pak Jokowi, because Ibu Mia and Ibu Nurjanah, whom I have personally met, complain about rising staple food prices,” said Sandiaga.

He added that his camp would push for food sufficiency and not import food commodities at harvest time to ensure the welfare of farmers.

While on the campaign trail, the businessman always quoted the “little people” he said he had met and talked to. The topics were mostly on the economic hardships that people shared with him.

While Sandiaga focused on food prices to eradicate poverty, Jokowi wanted to achieve equality in the economy through more infrastructure development projects outside Java. He also promoted one of the government’s cash aid programs, the Family Hope Program (PKH).

“Relying on economic growth alone will be an injustice. Therefore, we are developing infrastructure outside Java in the form of special economic zones across the country,” Jokowi said.

In January, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) reported that the country’s Gini ratio improved slightly to 0.384 as of September 2018, down from 0.389 in March and 0.391 in September 2017. The BPS reported that in September 2018, the poverty rate stood at 9.66 percent rate or 25.67 million people. The figure decreased from 9.82 percent in March, meaning 280,000 people had been lifted out of poverty

In Prabowo’s opening salvo during Saturday night’s debate against the direction the Jokowi administration’s economic policy is taking, he stated that the country was taking a wrong turn. “Too much of Indonesia’s money is going outside the country, and deindustrialization is happening. While other countries are going through industrialization, we are going through deindustrialization,” he said, adding that his camp had a strategy to change that.

Jokowi, in response, revved up nationalism as well by citing what his administration had done.

“We are fighting for the nation’s economic sovereignty. Natural resources that were previously owned by foreigners are now controlled by the state, for instance the Mahakam oil block and Freeport,” he said.

Jokowi ended the debate by saying “we should not be afraid of challenges and hardship. […] we must always be optimistic.” He also called on all Indonesians to go to the polls on April 17.

In his closing statement, Sandiaga said he and Prabowo would not be paid a salary if elected to the highest office in the country. Prabowo also took time to give appreciation to all the coalition parties, clerics and volunteers.

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