TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - President-elect Joko Widodo must be serious in his preparation to trim the cabinet.
This good idea, if it is not carefully considered, may slow down the implementation of the programs that he promised during the election campaign.
The risk will be bigger if the move is made recklessly, while completely ignoring the aspirations of political parties supporting his presidential nomination.
This dilemmatic condition is evident from differences of opinions between the Joko Widodo team and his vice president Jusuf Kalla.
The Jokowi team proposed to quite significantly streamline the cabinet, from the current 34 ministries into just 27 or even 24 ministries. However, Kalla considered that there is no need for such a significant change.
For Kalla, a big restructuring needs such a long time that it will disrupt the government. He also argued that the big number of ministers is not a problem, given the fact that Indonesia is a big country. As a matter of fact, Kalla opted for trimming the structures within the ministries, for example by removing Echelon III positions in order to simplify bureaucracy.
This difference should not be seen as a conflict; in fact it can better prepare the plan to trim the cabinet.
Whatever it is, restructuring at the early stage of the government will be easier than the one done in the middle. Hence, no minister will be offended because his/her ministry is merged with another ministry.
Nevertheless, the impact from the merging of ministries needs to be taken into account carefully in order not to disrupt the government or worse, not to incite upheavals.
Jokowi’s idea is in fact in line with the evaluation result of the government so far.
Deputy Minister of State Apparatus and Bureaucratic Reforms Eko Prasojo has recommended simplifying of the cabinet into one, consisting of only 30 or 27 ministries.
He proposed, for example, the Ministry of Agriculture to be merged with Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries Affairs, or Ministry of the Environment to be merged with the Ministry of Forestry.
The cabinet trimming is expected not only to achieve budget efficiency, but also to ease coordination. Thus, ministries will work faster if it is also followed by the removal of Echelon III positions, as proposed by Kalla. Even public servants who are less needed could be moved to regions that still need employees.
The government will run more effectively if the trimming of the cabinet is also coupled with efforts to create modern and online bureaucracy cultures. Public services are expected to be faster and satisfying. In this case, there’s no denying that bureaucracy of the government -especially regional governments- are left behind from the private sectors.
This is what matters about Jokowi’s wish. However, he has to convince political parties supporting him, including his pair Jusuf Kalla. Besides, the president elect also wants to appoint professionals as ministers.
Nonetheless, he must not let the political parties supporting him feel left out as they are not given positions in the trimmed cabinet.