April 9, 2019 / 6:10 AM / 3 months ago

Scorecard on Indonesian president's first term

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo faces former military general Prabowo Subianto in a general election on April 17, with most polls giving the incumbent a double-digit lead over his rival.

Indonesia's presidential candidate Joko Widodo gestures as he greets his supporters at a carnival during a campaign rally in Tangerang, Banten province, Indonesia, April 7, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan/File Photo

Below is a scorecard on Widodo’s main campaign promises from five years ago:

ECONOMIC GROWTH

Widodo set a target for 7 percent annual GDP growth but volatile markets and weak commodity prices limited growth to 4.88 percent in 2015. It was stuck at just above 5 percent for the rest of his term despite infrastructure investments.

The three credit rating agencies - Moody’s, S&P and Fitch - upgraded Indonesia after Widodo implemented economic reforms, including an easing of foreign ownership rules.

While Indonesia was relatively unscathed by emerging market routs, the economy still relies heavily on private consumption and exports of oil, gas and other resources.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Widodo appears to be on track to achieve some of the ambitious infrastructure targets he set five years ago.

FUEL SUBSIDIES, ELECTRICITY

He won praise in 2015 for keeping a campaign promise to remove gasoline subsidies. However, changes in retail prices still need government approval and sometimes ignore spikes in crude, leaving state energy firm Pertamina to foot the bill.

Widodo pledged to add 35 gigawatts of power capacity, but only about a fifth of new projects will be operational by 2019.

Five years on, 98.3 percent of Indonesians have access to electricity, beating his target of 96.6 percent.

INVESTMENT

Widodo pledged to make foreign investment easier through a “one-stop shop” for processing permits.

Indonesia now ranks 73 on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, up from 120 in 2014. It takes less time to start a business, experts say, but obstacles persist.

Foreign direct investment in rupiah terms fell in 2018 for the first time since 2011, according to government data.

TAX REFORM

Widodo aimed to raise tax collection to 16 percent of GDP by 2019, up from about 11 percent five years ago.

Despite a tax amnesty plan that gave incentives to wealthy Indonesians to declare previously concealed assets, collections only rose to 12 percent of GDP this year. The government says it needs more time to review the large number of declarations.

A proposal to establish a powerful tax agency, akin to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, was submitted to parliament early in his term, but appears to have stalled.

HEALTH AND EDUCATION

Widodo promised health insurance for all and better access to education. Millions of smart cards have been distributed for health and education subsidies.

About 95 percent of Indonesians have some form of health insurance, up from about 48 percent in 2014. However, the government health insurer has faced ballooning cash shortfalls that could make it hard to sustain coverage.

HUMAN RIGHTS

As the first president from outside the military and political elite, Widodo vowed to address past rights abuses.

Activists say cases such as the 1998 shooting of protesters during the Suharto era and killings of alleged communists in the mid-1960s have not been reopened.

They also point to rising intolerance toward minorities under Widido’s watch, as fringe Islamist groups gained more political influence in the officially secular country.

PAPUA

Widodo sought to open up impoverished Papua after decades of conflict, promising investment and attention on rights issues.

Tensions in the region persisted. More than a dozen workers involved in building a highway were killed by separatists last December, prompting an army crackdown that displaced hundreds.

Widodo oversaw an agreement whereby U.S. miner Freeport McMoRan Inc, which operates the world’s second-biggest copper mine in Papua, ceded majority control to Indonesia.

Indonesia's presidential candidate Joko Widodo speaks during a televised debate with his opponent Prabowo Subianto (not pictured) in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 30, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan/File Photo

CORRUPTION

Widodo’s clean reputation fanned expectations that he would accelerate efforts to root out corruption.

The Corruption Eradication Commission has made some high-profile arrests, but the agency needs more support, critics say, noting that the culprits behind an acid attack on a top graft investigator have not been arrested.

Reporting by Tabita Diela, Gayatri Suroyo and Kanupriya Kapoor; additional reporting by Wilda Asmarini; editing by Ed Davies and Darren Schuettler

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