Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Indonesia and the G20


by Aloysius Suratin, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Opinion | Tue, 06/19/2012 11:11 AM

The Group of Twenty (G20) economies meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico this week have a daunting brief: Figure out how to kick-start global economic recovery, growth and employment. The European debt crisis and its threat to global financial stability will more than likely dominate the talks.

It’s in all our interests to see European economies stabilized. But the success or failure of the Los Cabos summit must be judged on more than its European bailout plan. More than half of the world’s poorest people live within the G20, making it a key battleground in the fight against global poverty. G20 leaders — Indonesia among them —have acknowledged that “for prosperity to be sustained, it must be shared”.

They’ve pledged financial support and promised to clamp down on tax havens that deprive developing governments of desperately needed revenues. Three years ago, they launched a framework for “strong, sustainable and balanced growth”. They will meet in Mexico with little to show for these promises.

Indonesia can show leadership in Los Cabos by speaking up for the people being left behind by the G20.

We have an important place in the international arena, we have the fourth-largest population in the world, and our experience shows that reducing inequality is within G20 policymakers’ power.
Indonesia had seen the importance of investments in social protection schemes, albeit too limited due to budgetary constraints, in helping to mitigate short and medium term impacts of regional and global economic crises among people living in poverty.

A strong development agenda at the Mexican G20 summit needs developing countries to work together to ensure that our voices are heard.

The stakes are high; if development issues are pushed to the margins, economic growth won’t be enough to prevent poverty from escalating across G20 countries and beyond.

Indonesia is well-aware of the perils of economic growth that fails to reach the poorest, and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said that it is “in the interest of all developing countries to have strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive economic growth.”

The world would benefit from following our example. The message that Indonesia needs to take to G20 leaders is that they must raise, regulate and spend money in ways that ensure people get the food they need, the services they need and an economy that serves all people.

The G20 must now forge an inclusive plan to tackle poverty, hunger and inequality by raising money by clamping down on tax dodging, improving tax transparency, taxing the financial sector and introducing a carbon price on international shipping; regulating money by securing a more reliable food supply for people who desperately need it by curbing excessive food commodities speculation, supporting a system of emergency food reserves, scrapping biofuel subsidies, halting large-scale land grabs in developing countries and investing more in small-scale food producers; spending money on free and public health and education services that are vital safety nets that in themselves reduce inequalities.

We need a fairer and more sustainable development model in the future and a more concerted and dynamic response to the crises that confront us now.

The writer is deputy country director of Oxfam GB in Indonesia