JAKARTA, Indonesia: Indonesia’s president is appealing for support to move the country’s capital from overcrowded, sinking and polluted Jakarta.
President Joko Widodo told parliament in an annual national address Friday that the capital city is not only a symbol of national identity, but also a representation of national progress.
Indonesia’s decades-long discussion about building a new capital on Borneo island inched forward in April when Widodo approved a plan for the capital to move from Jakarta on Java island, the nation’s most populous.
The exact site for a new capital hasn’t been announced. Jakarta is a sprawling metropolis of 10 million people that swells to three times that number when counting those living in its greater metropolitan area.
“I’m asking for your permission to relocate our capital to the island of Kalimantan,” Widodo told lawmakers, referring to Indonesia’s portion of Borneo.
“A capital is not only a symbol of a nation’s identity, it also represents its progress,” he added.
Widodo did not reveal a specific location for the country’s new capital or new details about when the move could happen.
Speaking a day before the 74th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence, the recently reelected leader said his second term would focus on cutting red tape and luring more foreign investment.
He pledged to boost lagging productivity, turn Indonesia into an electric-vehicle hub and focus on improving worker skills in the sprawling country of some 260 million people.
“We have to be faster and better than our neighbors. “We’re facing a tumultuous global economy and geopolitical change,” the president said.
Indonesia’s president is expected to unveil next year’s budget later Friday. Widodo struggled to lift growth in his first term despite a huge roads-to-railways infrastructure building blitz.
The economy has been expanding around five percent annually, but that is well short of the seven percent Widodo had pledged in his first term.