Local governments need to brace citizens for asean community

Local governments need to brace citizens for asean community

Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi. (facebook)

SMEs need to be strengthened so that they can produce export oriented goods and make use of the upcoming ASEAN single market."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Local governments in ASEAN member countries are expected to brace themselves and their citizens for the start of the ASEAN Community by 2015, Secretary General to the United Cities and Local Governments Region Asia Pacific, Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, said here on Tuesday.

"The ASEAN community will enable a more free movement of people within the region. There must be a political will within the local government to prepare its citizens for the implementation of the community, so that they can enjoy the benefits of integration, while also minimizing the risks," she said.

"An improvement in coordination between the central and local government is also needed for this matter," she said on the first day of the regional workshop on building cooperation between the central governments and local governments of ASEAN member countries.

Bernardia reiterated the need for support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in ASEAN, as the sector will grow larger in line with the implementation of ASEAN Community in 2015.

"SMEs need to be strengthened so that they can produce export oriented goods and make use of the upcoming ASEAN single market," she added.

Meanwhile, Cambodias Secretary of State for the Ministry of Interior, Sak Setha, said currently Cambodia is facing problems, such as the gap of income between the rich and the poor and gap of capacity between the central and local governments.

"Hence, I support any efforts to improve the capacity of local governments. A good coordination between the central and local governments is needed in order to solve the problem in the future," he said.

Meanwhile, Mayor of Lamphaya city, Thailand, John Nipatpokai said participation of local people is also important in order to help local governments improve the situation in their city or province prior to the start of ASEAN 2015.

Earlier, an official from Indonesias Foreign Affairs Ministry said the country is ready to work with the ASEAN Community in 2015, despite a survey indicating only three countries are now prepared to participate in the regional organization.

"The survey was based on certain sectors, not all of them. There is not total readiness, but there are certain sectors in some countries that are better than other countries," said Foreign Ministry official Henk Edward Saroinsong.

Based on the survey, the three best-prepared countries are Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Henk said that Indonesia is ready to participate in the ASEAN Community by 2015, although Indonesias SME export performance is low compared to many countries.

"With the ASEAN free market, we need to prepare ourselves, need to improve the countrys competitiveness and production quality," he said

According to Henk, the Indonesian Ministry of Trade and Cooperatives should take steps to explain the existing regulations to create Indonesian momentum with the ASEAN agreement.

Henk said that the 2015 ASEAN Community is based upon three pillars; political and security, economic, and social and cultural.

Further, according to Henk, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Indonesia has become the leading country in cooperating with the ASEAN Community.

Therefore, the government has taken steps to address the creation of the ASEAN Community by 2015 under the Presidential Instruction No.5 of 2008 on Economic Focus Program, Presidential Instruction No.11 of 2011 on the Implementation of Commitments ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, and Presidential Decree No.23 Year 2012 on Membership composition of the ASEAN National Secretariat.