Sustain reform momentum from omnibus law: Jakarta Post

In its editorial, the paper says a national political consensus on the law would be pivotal to enable Indonesia to raise its economic growth and maintain market confidence in the government's policymaking capacity.

Youths throw stones to riot police during the second day of a three-day-strike of labourers against a government omnibus bill on job creation which they believe will deprive workers of their rights, in Lampung on October 7, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - In view of the wide opposition by various groups of people against the omnibus law, it is most urgent and imperative for the government to accelerate the formulation of all the regulations needed to implement the legislation, especially for the controversial provisions regarding labour rights and the environment.

Few we believe have perused the almost 1,000-page legislation to see its whole perspective and understand its far-reaching impact on the economy and welfare of the people in general.

We know for sure that the law will be legally challenged. But the dissemination early on to the public of draft government regulations on the implementation of at least the most controversial provisions could generate meaningful and productive discussions and assuage the inordinately emotional reaction to the law.

We think draft regulations on the implementation of the provisions on labour rights, environmental protection and the role of foreign investment should be given top priority. The regulations should squarely address the issues that people are most concerned about.

We should magnanimously admit that, given the fact that it is the first kind of omnibus law ever enacted in the country's history and taking into account the extremely wide impact of the legislation as it amends 76 prevailing laws, the public deliberations of the law had not been adequately vigorous and transparent.

Simply put, the law had not been subjected to exhaustively meaningful deliberations for achieving a political consensus.

Not all concerned civil society organisations and associations had the opportunity to conduct vigorous deliberations of the omnibus bill after its unveiling to the House of Representatives in late January.

Part of the problem is the pandemic, which hit the country in early March, thereby virtually prohibiting big gatherings.

But simply rejecting wholesale the entire law could cost the nation a golden opportunity for such a holistic reform that is sorely needed to solve the inherent problems that have made our economy constantly less competitive than our Southeast Asian neighbours.

Besides the controversial issues cited above, the law addresses issues related to: the protection and licensing of micro, small and medium enterprises, land acquisition, special economic zone, investment facilitation, public governance.

First of all, we should remember that the omnibus law on job creation was enacted as a solution to implement badly needed reform to improve the competitiveness of the economy, without which we will never be able to enhance the people's welfare.

Just look how frustrated the government was with its miserable failure to implement almost 20 reform packages launched from 2015 to 2019 as a result of the regulatory overlap and conflict deriving from about 80 laws as well as thousands of presidential regulations and ministerial decrees.

A national political consensus on this omnibus law, however it would eventually be nurtured, would be pivotal not only to enable us to raise our economic growth and ameliorate poverty but also to maintain the market confidence in the credibility and capacity of the government's policymaking capacity.

The Jakarta Post is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media organisations.

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