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NEWS UPDATES 24 July 2010

Governors want speedy Sumatra development

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Governors across Sumatra called on the central government Friday to make development of the island’s infrastructure a top priority to spur economic growth, the Jakarta Post reports.

The call was part of the recommendations of the two-day 2010 Sumatra Development Summit held in Bandarlampung, Lampung, which was attended by politicians, businesspeople and 10 governors.

Lampung Governor Sjachroedin Z.P. said the central government and the private sector could tap Sumatra’s economic potential — but not much had been done due a lack of infrastructure.

“Sumatra should be seen as a whole and not as individual parts because the potential of each province on the island is related,” he said.

“The potential of Jambi and Bengkulu, for example, has not been fully tapped due to the poor road network connecting Lampung and the two provinces.”

At the summit, which followed earlier forums with Sumatran governors held over the last five years, it was disclosed that 1,333 kilometers of Sumatra’s 10,588 kilometers of roads.

“State funds allocated for road repairs are very limited. Railway transportation remains idle and port construction has not been well managed or integrated,” Sjachroedin said.

The most important infrastructure development projects that may be soon be realized are the Trans-Sumatra railway line from Lampung to Aceh, the Sunda Strait Bridge connecting Java and Sumatra, the Trans-Bangka-Belitung highway and telecommunications and power network improvements.

Regional Representatives Council Speaker Irman Gusman said that Sumatra’s development as an integrated economic area should be supported by the development of adequate transportation, infrastructure, telecommunications facilities and irrigation networks. “The three major overland routes are unable to link Sumatra as an economic network in regional development, even though they are part of the overland transportation system from Bakauheni [in Lampung] to Banda Aceh [in Aceh],” he said.

The island has 40 million people and is potentially viable as a gateway to the global market given its proximity to regional economic growth centers such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and India,

He added “Sumatra has a strategic role in the Asia Pacific region thanks to the presence of the Malacca Strait, which is part of the Indonesian archipelagic sea lane,” Irman said.

“Despite its huge potential, infrastructure development in Sumatra is still limited. Consequently, the average economic growth of Sumatra remains stagnant at 5 percent.” He blamed economic mismanagement, in terms of policy making and implementation, from the central government and local administrations for slowing down economic growth. Sumatra is home to commodities that may spur economic growth, such as oil, gas and coal.

In the agricultural sector, the total area of oil palm plantations in Sumatra account for 70.75 percent of the national total.

“However, poverty in Sumatra remains high at 13.19 percent,” Sjachroedin said.

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