They also discussed accelerating budget disbursement and procurement."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) met with university rectors from across the country on Thursday to discuss current economic developments.

"They discussed various issues. The President shared his views about the current political and economic developments and dynamics," Minister/State Secretary Pratikno said after accompanying the President Jokowi to the meeting with the rectors.

He added, "The President also asked for inputs from the rectors regarding research and university education, as well as general issues. They also discussed accelerating budget disbursement and procurement."

Pratikno said the meeting had been planned for a long time. "It has been put on the agenda a long time ago. It was merely aimed at sharing ideas and so the rectors have proposed many ideas, including for the development of universities."

The rector of the state Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) Herry Suharyanto said the President had urged the public to remain calm with regards to the current economic situation as panic could disrupt economic growth.

"We discussed regulations for a long time. He said there are numerous problems posed by regulations and that they will be tackled one by one. From our perspective, they have not been tackled well yet," he said.

Suharyanto added that the university representatives had also demanded facilities for the implementation of regulations.

"If universities are granted the liberty and autonomy, and God willing they have clear targets and budget support, they will be able to carry out decision making effectively," Pratikno said.

President Jokowi also discussed issues related to the budget, saying there were a lot of problems that needed solutions and the rectors need not fear that using the budget would impact economic growth.

State Gajah Mada University's rector Dwikorita Karnawati said the other rectors asked for government support for facilities, encouraging the use domestic products and disbursing research funds to catch up on progress and urged the President to force industries to cooperate with universities for research and development.

"Cooperation may not lead to profit, but there must be compensation, such as tax reduction so that domestic products might compete," he said.

She further said that President Jokowi had responded positively and pledged to facilitate it.

"It all depends on the governments policy. We have to stop importing and start exporting more. We can export our products to Myanmar (for disaster detection) and also to Vietnam. So in case of a disaster we can help intellectually as well, and not only send instant noodles," she said.

To improve the countrys competitive power, Karnawati said her university had been able to produce biofuel from algae, but its selling price was still higher than gasoline and so it was not yet competitive.

"If we are given a subsidy, the price may be competitive. Gasoline was cheap before because it was subsidized. The price of our product is Rp10,000, while gasoline is only Rp6,500 a liter," she said.

A total of 23 rectors attended the meeting, including from University of Indonesia, the Bandung Institute of Technology and Andalas University.

(Reporting by Ageng Wibowo/Uu.H-YH/INE/KR-BSR)

Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2015