Indonesian Stakeholders Collaborate to Strengthen Poverty Reduction Legislation

During the past year in the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi, representatives from political parties, civil society organizations and business along with local elected officials, religious leaders and academics took part in the South Sulawesi Task Force to debate public policy, advocate for more responsive government services and to propose legislative recommendations concerning priority issues identified by provincial constituents.  

“The work that the task force has done by bringing political and legislative leaders together with civil society to jointly develop policy initiatives has resulted in an improved legislative process.  Their policy recommendations on reducing poverty have helped the parliament enact a more comprehensive law that better represents peoples’ aspirations,” said Muchlis Panaungi, the chairman of the provincial parliament’s legislative committee in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The successful public-private partnership, which was supported by the International Republican Institute (IRI), began its work through consultations held between various stakeholders, using IRI public opinion surveys to identify local issues of concern.  The task force members then worked together to formulate policy recommendations based on findings learned through monthly meetings with local organizations and individuals.  Members also regularly met with parliamentary leaders to help identify relevant but currently overlooked concerns.  Once the recommendations were finalized, task force members presented their recommendations to parliamentary leaders and organized public hearings to lobby support for the recommendations.

Twelve policy recommendations seeking to reduce poverty in the province were suggested by the task force – eight were recently enacted into law.  The recommendations included provisions that require the division of accountability between the provincial and municipal governments in poverty reduction programs and ensure that regional poverty reduction teams be comprised of multiple stakeholders, including civil society organizations.  The provisions also include improving the accuracy and reliability of statistical data on poverty available in the province and imposing penalties on individuals or organizations that violate regulations in the area of poverty reduction.

“This unique approach to public policy development has helped establish a more constructive relationship between civil society organizations and political parties.  We each had relatively distinct roles during the process.  The political party members had the skills to negotiate the task force’s interests with parliamentary leaders.  Meanwhile, civil society was better equipped to represent the interests of citizens in a more specialized manner within the task force.  This cooperation contributed to our success and ensured our policy recommendations were enacted into law,” said Syahrier Rier, vice chairman of the United Development Party in South Sulawesi.

The task force also submitted policy recommendations to the provincial legislative committee on child protection and recommendations to provide support to small and medium-sized businesses that are currently pending in the provincial parliament.

IRI’s program has shown how local government are made more responsive and accountable to the needs of its citizens by bringing civil society representatives, who are more attuned to constituents’ specific needs, together with political and legislative leaders when public policy is first being formulated. 

IRI’s work in Indonesia is funded by the United States Agency for International Development and promotes the development of representative political parties that are policy- and issue-focused and whose members are more effective leaders in serving the basic needs of citizens.

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