Advice for our next leader: Gita Wirjawan
"I think the game changer from a fiscal standpoint would be an increase in the number of taxpayer"
July-September 2014
By: Gita Wirjawan

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is coming at the end of 2015. Will Indonesia be ready? We're probably going to be able to check off 90 percent of the boxes for the AEC. Other countries may be able to check off more than 90 percent so we will be relatively less ready than some other countries. But that doesn't mean it's a losing proposition for us.

If you take the long view, there is this market in ASEAN of $2.1 trillion today going up to $3.5 or $4 trillion in the next few years. There is a market of 600 million people. And you know where the buying power is. Indonesia makes up a good chunk of that 600 million and that $2.1 trillion. About 45 percent.

But we will have to be on the defensive for the first few years. I think what we have to do is make some serious investments in education and infrastructure, and anything that helps us move up the value chain. And it is also key for us to message this thesis properly so it doesn't get lost in translation. Typically when people say ‘moving up the value chain,’ that is seen as nationalism.

But this has to be cleverly crafted and done in such a way that we welcome anybody from anywhere to invest here. And not just welcome but incentivize them with the right fiscal framework. And that's serious business. We are taking about huge amounts of money here. If we invest in the right parts of the educational structure, starting with what I call the “plumbers in the polytechnic schools,” where you can become a hairdresser, an animator, a plumber.

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