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Sri Mulyani: From Remittances, Shrimp Crackers and Selfies
World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati speaks at the 20th International Conference on The Future of Asia in Tokyo (5/23). AP/Eugene Hoshiko
Monday, 16 March, 2015 | 12:44 WIB
Sri Mulyani: From Remittances, Shrimp Crackers and Selfies

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - In a new rubric for and about the Indonesian Diaspora, Tempo English features as it's first profile, former Indonesian finance minister and current World Bank Managing Director, Sri Mulyani Indrawati. Describing herself as another 'TKI' she discusses the diaspora phenomenon and related issues.

The World Bank’s Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati, at 52 years old, has been named Asia’s--as well as the world's--best finance minister by Emerging Markets and Euromoney, respectively, for her achievements as Indonesia’s finance minister from 2005 to 2010 before her resignation and move to World Bank.

Having arrived in D.C. from a World Bank visit to Brazil only the day before, Indrawati, or known as simply “Ani” among friends, was already leaping from one meeting to the next and was also scheduled to speak at a World Bank’s women’s day event later that day.

Yet Indrawati, who has been on Forbes’s list of the world’s most powerful women more than once, had just enough time for a friendly chat about her personal experience as an Indonesian living and working overseas, and, on a more urgent note: about the potential role of the Indonesian Diaspora, which now has reached an estimated number of 5 million (though the reported numbers vary), with last year’s remittances reaching, according to World Bank data, a record high of USD8.35 billion.

Considering the growing trend in mobility at the global level, which Indrawati attributes to advancements in branches of technology as well as the growing affordability of airfares, it would only make sense to examine the untapped potential that the Indonesian Diaspora still has to offer its home country.

Although Indrawati believes that Indonesia is doing rather well economically and is not “in a chronic state,” she nonetheless feels that the resources could be financed “in a more sustainable way.”

Indrawati, who obtained her Ph.D in economics at the University of Illinois, pointed out that the in-flow of funds coming from Indonesians working overseas is already a steady source of income, regardless of the changing states of the economy—whether it is tanking or booming at any given time—and could even be used to finance state budget if the government issued diaspora bonds.

Apart from India and Israel, who have taken strides along these lines, other countries such as Nigeria—who is currently one of the top remittance recipient countries—and even the Philippines, who according to Indrawati already has “a more or less robust system of receiving diaspora money,” are currently thinking of ways to make use of diaspora bonds to finance state budgets.

(Read the full story in this week's Tempo English magazine)


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