Improving irrigation system a priority: Chief economic minister

"This is urgent and requires immediate improvements," Chief Economic Minister Sofyan Djalil said.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Improving irrigation networks covering one million hectares of rice fields in the country will be prioritized by the government in line with its infrastructure development plans, Chief Economic Minister Sofyan Djalil said.

"This is urgent and requires immediate improvements," he stated after attending the Indonesia Infrastructure Week here on Wednesday.

The minister added that the budget to be earmarked for the program was still being deliberated. However, the government will most likely allocate some Rp11 trillion for the cause so that it can help boost food production in the country.

"Indicatively, funding from the central and regional governments will total Rp11 trillion," he affirmed, adding that the funds will be allocated in the revised budget for 2015.

Moreover, the program will be coordinated among the central, provincial and district governments.

"Efforts to improve the primary irrigation network will be carried out by the central government, while those of the secondary and tertiary networks will be done by the provincial and district/city governments," Djalil explained.

The chief economic minister, however, did not disclose where the irrigation networks in question are located.

In addition, the minister also noted that the government hopes that food production doubles in 2015 to five to six million tons through this program.

"The state budget will mostly finance infrastructure (development projects) that are linked to the national economy, including dams and village access roads," he said.

Financing projects that support businesses and attract investors, such as airport and seaport development, would be referred to private partners, the minister added.

Furthermore, the General Chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Trade and Industry (Kadin), Suryo Bambang Sulisto, said that the budget allocated for infrastructure development was still insufficient and far from the required ideal amount.

In the revised 2014 budget, Sulisto pointed out that only Rp206 trillion had been allocated for infrastructure expenditures, which was only about 20 percent of total expenditures of the central government.

In the 2014 budget, the funds set aside for infrastructure development was even lower at only Rp196 trillion, he remarked.

Moreover, the Minister of National Development Planning/Head of National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), Andrinof A Chaniago, affirmed that infrastructure development in the sectors of agriculture, energy and maritime will be given priority.

These sectors are expected to be able to help achieve the target of seven percent economic growth set by President Jokowi and are also aimed at boosting peoples prosperity, he explained.(*)