After Soeharto: Prospects for reform and recovery in Indonesia
Ross H McLeod
With Soeharto's demise, Indonesia gained democracy but lost effective government. The economy has been slow to recover from the crisis, and even modest growth of around 3-4% may not be able to be maintained: neither stagnation nor decline is out of the question. It is therefore urgent to overhaul Indonesia's public sector institutions, which had been co-opted by Soeharto into his economy-wide 'franchise' - a system of government devoted to the objective of redistributing income and wealth from the weak to the strong while simultaneously maintaining rapid growth. This franchise has disintegrated in the absence of a clear 'owner', with its various component parts now working at cross purposes rather than in mutually reinforcing fashion. The result has been a significant decline in the security of property rights and the postponement of a convincing economic rebound. To reform the public sector institutions it will be necessary to undertake a radical overhaul of personnel management practices and salary structures, with the objective of providing strong incentives for officials to work in the public interest. The prospects for such reform, however, seem slight.
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