There have been a lot of critics around the International 2018 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) held on October 12-14 in Nusa Dua, Bali. It’s the 4th time the meeting is held in Asian country. Around 32,000 people — including finance ministers and central bankers from 180 nations — attended the meeting. The meeting itself is set to “discuss issues of global concern, including world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.” The Indonesian government along with Bank Indonesia, had allocated Rp. 810.17 billion (US$60.12 million) to host the meeting.
On one hand, some critics — especially the government opposition — view the event as a waste of money, considering Indonesia still has other more urgent needs. Others view the meeting as a political act to raise the popularity of the incumbent president. “The expense for the meeting is extraordinary… we are very sad, why in this atmosphere of concern in light of recent disasters in Donggala, Palu, and Lombok, the spirit to spend is not halted?” said Rizal Ramli, Former Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, in a press release, standing next to Prabowo Subianto, presidential candidate for the 2019 election.
“It would be better if they saved some of the spending costs and diverted it to help earthquake recovery instead,” stated Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, the spokesperson coordinator for the presidential campaign of Prabowo, told local media. Ramson Siagian, Debater of the National Winning Body of Prabowo-Sandi, sees the event as an effort to “make an image of the current government,” and “lacking substance.” ALthough those statements are supported by facts, again, it seems that the economic problem is mixed with individual political agenda.
On the other hand, the ruling government view the event as an opportunity to show the world the economic potential of Indonesia, hoping to attract foreign investors. In response to criticism about the spending, President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo said that the budget is spent on infrastructures that can be used after the meeting is over. Bambang Brodjonegoro, Minister of National Development Planning to Indonesia, estimated that the direct economic impact of the meeting can reach Rp. 5.9 trillion (US$388.32 million). Most supporters of the meeting also highlighted the indirect economic impact which is hoped to increase economic growth in Indonesia in the coming years. Furthermore, the Rp, 810. 17 billion budget for the meeting is lower compared to other countries that have held the meeting before. Japan allocated Rp. 1.1 trillion when it hosted the meeting in 2012, while Peru, which hoste dit in 2015, allocated Rp. 2.29 trillion. Tourism in Bali is also expected to recover from the decline since 2018 due to Mr. Agung eruptions.
Indeed, allocating huge government spending on the country will increase the Gross Domestic Product and support economic growth. However, claimed by some people, in order to be more than just a ‘developing countries’, massive international investment is needed (as more people are spending their money in our country). And this meeting is aiming to do so, don’t you think?