Indonesia' president Joko Widodo has criticized his ministers due to the country's widening current account deficit - Photo: Privacy.

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesia’ president Joko Widodo has criticized his ministers due to the country’s widening current account deficit (CAD). In the first quarter of 2019, the CAD widened to US$6.97 billion from an upwardly revised $5.34 billion gap a year earlier, equivalent to 2.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

In a plenary cabinet session at Presidential Palace in Bogor, West Java on Monday (07/8), the president criticized his minister performance who were considered to be not maximal enough to overcome national economic problems, especially about imports and exports.

“We need to look at the figures obtained by the statistics agency’ data. This is careful, which is related to exports and imports,” said Widodo referring to Statistics Indonesia data released in May.

The data showed that Indonesia’ goods account surplus narrowed sharply to $1.06 billion from $2.32 billion a year ago, with exports falling 8.6 percent and imports declining 6.1 percent and the services account gap increased to $1.79 billion from $1.57 billion.

Also, the primary income shortfall rose to $8.10 billion from $7.39 billion and the secondary income deficit advanced to $1.87 billion from $1.44 billion.

Widodo asked the ministers to look at the figures and question why the value of imports was so high. He insinuated the relevant ministers to fix this problem. Starting from the energy and mineral resources minister Ignasius Jonan, state-owned enterprises minister Rini Soemarno, to the investment coordinating board chief Thomas Trikasih Lembong.

Regarding exports, the former governor of Jakarta said Indonesia had a great opportunity for exports, especially after the trade war between the United States (US) and China. According to Widodo, the opportunity for country’ exports to the US is enormous because of the imposition of tariffs on products from China.

“This is our chance to increase the capacity of factories, existing industries. But once again the government should provide incentives for existing opportunities. If we are just a routine, we cannot give special incentives for exporters, both those who small, large and medium, or incentives in the form of interest, for example, it is difficult for them to penetrate, both to the market, which I shared and new markets that exist, “Jokowi said.

Besides the matter of exports and imports, Widodo also mentioned investment. The president reminded that he had said dozens of times that investments related to exports, investments related to import substitution, must be granted as soon as possible.

The Investment Coordinating Board reported that the country recorded realization investment Rp195 trillion ($$13.73 billion) in the first quarter, reached only 24.6 percent of the investment target Rp792.0 trillion in 2019.

“But the events in the field are not like that. From the Ministry of Forestry, for example, it is still a long time. This was land affairs. Later the Vice President will tell about the petrochemical that we need but stop a year more due to land, very inhibiting “Widodo said.

The Southeast Asia largest economics president also mentioned his last visit to Manado, North Sulawesi. Widodo stated that the area lacked hotels. On the other hand, there are many companies that want to build hotels.

“Affairs related to spatial planning can be resolved by agreements that must indeed be done. All things like this if in detail we are entangled in routine and do not dare to see problems, see real challenges we face, we cannot solve problems,” Widodo said, asking for integrated work between ministries must take precedence.

Previously, Widodo has criticized his ministers for introducing new regulations that discourage investments and are not in line with his push for economic growth. Widodo claimed 23 new regulations prevented easy investment. He said that the regulations were not included in the economic packages that had been issued by the government.

The president called on his ministers and other relevant officials to revise their “problematic” regulations to help the government attract more foreign investment. He said that such regulations may disrupt the economic growth target.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com