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Indonesia is engaged in an unprecedented social and economic experiment. Responsibility for much government expenditure is being decentralised, largely to local (district) rather than to provincial governments. If this process is successful, the world’s most centralised large country could become one of its most decentralised. This paper considers the issues arising as preparations for decentralisation are finalised, and as the socialisation of its plans and practices is considered by the central government, the People’s Representative Council, the decentralised units of government, and the public. These issues were identified partly through interviews with local government officials. They include policy and administrative matters yet to be resolved, such as local budgeting, financial management and auditing practices, personnel decentralisation, local taxation, borrowing by local governments, and the match between revenues and expenditures. A major theme is the importance of a continuing national and local discussion on the goals and processes of decentralisation.


Originally published by Taylor & Francis in Alm, James, Robert H. Aten, and Roy Bahl. 2001. “Can Indonesia Decentralise Successfully? Plans, Problems and Prospects.” Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies 37 (1): 83–102.

(c) Taylor & Francis. Posted by permission.


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