Courtesy of Forbes Asia
For the first time in its 16-year history, the prestigious Forbes Global CEO Conference was held in Jakarta for three days in late November 2016, at the Shangri-La hotel. Keynote speakers on two consequent days were Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani. The event had a remarkable launch with the opening keynote speaker on November 29—President Joko Widowo. In typical all-work style, the President arrived, made a short stop in the VIP room and then went straight to the podium to deliver his address, and sound a gamelan gong to signal the start of the Conference. In his remarks, he highlighted his accomplishments, and what yet needs to be done, with a focus on economic reform and improving the investment climate—he also made a playful quip about the incoming U.S. President Donald Trump. His address, delivered in English, lasted about 12 minutes. It was accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation and interrupted several times by applause. Below is a transcript of his address.
PRESIDENT JOKO WIDODO:
Honourable Mr Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-In-Chief of Forbes Media Group, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Good evening. Welcome to Jakarta. It is an honor for us to be able to host such a prestigious conference with so many famous and distinguished guests. First, let me state the following: I am also a CEO. Not only am I the chief executive officer for all of Indonesia, but for more than twenty years, I was also the CEO of my own furniture manufacturing and furniture export business. Therefore, I am happy and honored to attend the Forbes Global CEO Conference for my first time, also as a CEO.
Ladies and gentlemen, when I took office two years ago, as the incoming CEO for the Republic of Indonesia, I knew that we had to restructure our economy as soon as possible. And we had to reform our democracy as soon as possible, and that we had to upgrade and reform our society as soon as possible. The world had changed and we had to change with it. Unless we took action quickly to catch up, it was clear to me that Indonesia would fall behind.
Within one month of taking office, I reduced fuel subsidies by more than 80%, which freed up $15 billion per year of fiscal space. We are able to reallocate this to infrastructure, to education and to healthcare. With the infrastructure budget, we launched the biggest infrastructure program in the history of Indonesia —30 gigawatts of powerplant projects, 1,000 kilometers of toll roads, 3,258 km of railways, 15 new airports and 10 airport expansions, 24 seaport and seaport expansions. Then, 14 months ago, we launched a major effort to deregulate and streamline permits and licenses. So far, we have launched 14 so-called policy packages reforms and took concrete measures such as creating customs logistics centers which make the import of raw materials and the export of finished goods much more efficient.
We created a formulat that puts a limit on the annual increases in minimum wage, which creates certainty for employers, lowering the price of gas for industry, and many other economic reform measures. This year we launched an ambitious tax amnesty program, and after only five months, ours is already the most successful tax amnesty program in the world history. So far, we have collected around $9 billion, or more than 1% of GDP, in penalty payments and a similar amount in capital repatriation. An amazing $300 billion of undeclared assets has been declared to our tax office—that’s more than 30% of GDP.