Saturday, May 19, 2007

Public service law a priority: Experts

Thursday, April 26, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Experts have asked the House of Representatives to prioritize the deliberation of a draft law on public services, insisting it will have a direct and positive impact on society.

"This regulation will help the government meet the people's needs," said Adrinof Chaniago from the University of Indonesia.

Addressing a discussion organized by the Partnership for Governance Reform in Indonesia on Wednesday, Adrinof said that compared with some laws, the draft bill was less abstract in its content.

"For instance, although we already have a law on investment, it does not directly provide for the people," he said. "The draft law should not be passed over because there are absolutely no issues with the bill's content.

"There are some minor problems that need to be discussed, but the important thing to do is to hurry its approval," he said.

The Office of the State Minister for Administrative Reforms handed over the draft public services bill to the House in 2005.

The bill was then discussed six times by Commission II for home affairs and returned to the ministry earlier this month for revision.

Though he agreed to the ratification of the bill, Ajeng Kesuma Achmad from the Concerned Citizens for Public Service group said the draft was far from perfect and not ready to be passed into law.

She said the bill left limited space for public participation as people would have little say in determining matters relating to the standard of services, service announcements, the public satisfaction index and access by vulnerable groups to services.

"Given the minimum space for people to participate in public services, we doubt that this draft law will solve the people's problems relating to the (poor) access and quality of our basic services," said Ajeng.

She said the draft law emphasizes bureaucratic reform rather than provide an holistic attempt to fulfill the people's basic need for good services.

Citing research conducted in eight regencies by the Civil Society Alliance for Democracy (YAPPIKA), Ajeng said that more than 70 percent of respondents thought public services were not participative in terms of efforts to increase the quality of services.

Ajeng underlined the need for people to decide the quality of public services they desire through a citizen's charter, which is a service contract between the service provider and the public. It pertains to the type, process and quality of services, as well as times, costs, rights, obligations and complaint, sanction and dispute mechanisms.

"The public should be widely involved in deciding the standard of services and this requires wide access to information," said Ajeng.

Meanwhile, Ismiyarto, from the Office of the State Minister for Administrative Reforms, said his office was waiting for input from the public before it hands over an improved draft to the House. (02)

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