President Jokowi says he wants to put foreigners in charge of some of Indonesia’s state-owned enterprises

While many Indonesians are paranoid about foreign workers coming to Indonesia and stealing work, President Joko Widodo has said he wants to put foreign workers in charge of some of the country’s state-owned businesses.

Speaking at the State Palace yesterday, Jokowi said that the leaders of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) should have a strong drive and promote healthy competition so that SOEs can continue to advance and develop to their fullest.

“I even want there to be three or four bule professionals leading state-owned enterprises so that our people can learn and be motivated and be able to compete with foreigners,” he said as quoted by Merdeka yesterday.

Jokowi pointed to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a country in which state-owned companies were allowed to be run by foreigners since the mid-1970s, which allowed them to develop rapidly.

“I heard this explanation directly from Sheikh Mohammed of the United Arab Emirates some time ago,” Jokowi said. 

According to the president, Singapore’s much-praised education system reached its current position after foreigners were allowed to run schools early in the country’s history. 

“So, the bottom line is that foreigners could temporarily lead and manage several state-owned enterprises so that those companies could progress rapidly, but we would retain ownership SOE companies should remain state property,” he said.

Given the current climate of distrust towards foreign workers, it is interesting the Jokowi would suggest allowing them to lead so of the Indonesia’s biggest and most powerful companies. 

But perhaps that is truly what he believes is needed to help boost their productivity and the country’s overall economy. If so, he should consider that in terms of how Indonesia’s increasingly strict regulations on foreign workers are leading to a shortage of highly skilled labor throughout the country’s businesses sectors. 


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