Multilateral Development Banks

Paul Wolfowitz’s statement to the Media Centre in Aceh, Indonesia

World Bank

April 5, 2006
Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarokatuh. Saya sangat gembira dapat datng kembali ke Indonesia dan saya juga merasa senang bisa memulai dengan media Aceh. Saya mengunjungi Aceh 14 bulan yang lalu, satu bulan setelah bencana Tsunami. Saat itu seluruh masyarakat Aceh tentu saja dalam keadaan shock. Saya sendiri tidak bisa mengungkapkan dengan kata-kata perasaan saya melihat kehancuran yang sangat besar ditempat yang sebelumnya begitu indah. Saya masih mengingat Aceh dari kunjungan pertama saya, sudah 19 tahun yang lalu, sebagai daerah yang indah dan masyarakat yang sangat ramah menerima saya, masyarakat yang memiliki kekayaan budaya yang mengesankan. Saya datang sekarang satu tahun setelah bencana itu untuk melihat apa yang bisa dibantu lebih lanjut oleh Bank Dunia dan jika mungkin untuk mempercepat proses rekonstruksi. Saya juga ingin melihat perkembangan proses perdamaian yang memberi harapan jangka panjang demi pemulihan Aceh. Saya terkesan pada jiwa besar masyarakat Aceh untuk bangkit kembali dari bencana ini.

Paul Wolfowitz: (Translation: May peace be with you. It’s good to be back in Indonesia, especially to be able to visit Aceh again. I was in Aceh 14 months ago, amonth after the tsunami tragedy. At that time people were still in a state of shock, and it was difficult to explain in words the level of devastation that I saw in a place that once was so beautiful. When I visited Aceh 19 years ago, I still remember it as a beautiful place, and the people were extremely hospitable and their culture was so rich. A year after the tragedy, I have come to see how the World Bank can be more helpful and, if possible, help accelerate the process of recovery. I also wanted to see how the peace process is evolving as it also helps Aceh recover. I am in awe of the spirit of the people of Aceh as they rebuild their lives after the tsunami.)

I will continue in English.

When I came back to Aceh last year I was still in shock. Right after the tsunami, there was so much sadness and a feeling of hopelessness. This terrible destruction was something beyond description. Fortunately at that time the further humanitarian disaster that people feared was prevented. And now the process of reconstruction is under way. It’s a difficult process and a great challenge. Fortunately, however, there have been resources brought by the Government of Indonesia, by many other governments, by multilateral institutions – among them the World Bank – and by literally several thousands of non-governmental organizations.

Most of all, there is the strong spirit of the people of Aceh which survives in spite of the tsunami. And that is, I believe, a foundation on which solid reconstruction can take place. I think the goal is not only to rebuild Aceh as it was before, but to rebuild Aceh better than it was before. I came here to learn more about the rebuilding process, to learn more about what the World Bank can do to help speed up that process, to ask Pak Kuntoro in person, on the spot, what help can we give from the World Bank. I also came here to visit some of the villages most affected by the long running war that took place here in Aceh. One of the wonderful developments since last year – in a year that was otherwise marked by tragedy – is the completion of the peace process that has brought to an end that conflict and brings hope to thousands of people whose lives were hurt by the war here just as much as those lives were hurt by the tsunami. I think it is important that, when rebuilding, Aceh’s future is better than Aceh’s past in a way that maintains the rich traditions.

After this visit, I’ll be going to some other places in Indonesia to look at what the World Bank is doing for the development of the whole country. Indonesia is now the third largest democracy in the world, and its people are demonstrating what they are doing to make democracy work, and I’d love to see that in Aceh as well.

So once again, Mr. Governor Pak Kuntoro, thank you for this warm welcome, and I look forward to a very productive visit even if it’s only a short one. Thank you.

Question and Answer Session

Question: (Metro TV Jakarta) So far are you quite satisfied by the development process here since many people have criticized it as too slow?

Paul Wolfowitz: Well I was criticizing it for being too slow, and I think it started to take off sometime during the end of last year. I think Pak Kuntoro has something to do with that. I suspect we will always say it’s too slow. And we are all looking for ways to speed it up. But I take a lot of encouragement from the fact that the rate of reconstruction seems to be speeding up. I feel a sense of responsibility both to the people of Aceh but also to the main donors who have contributed millions of dollars to the (multi-donor) trust fund that we administer at the World Bank. So we have to show results, and faster results will be better

Question: Are there any new commitments from the World Bank to Aceh or Indonesian Government?

Paul Wolfowitz: I don’t think what Aceh needs is new resources. What Aceh needs is help in administering the resources. And one of the things I will talk to Pak Kuntoro about is whether we can provide some additional technical assistance that will make it possible to disperse some of these funds more rapidly but still maintain control of how the money is used.

Question: (Jakarta Post) Is there anything that the World Bank can do to help ensure that the peace process is going ahead on schedule?

Paul Wolfowitz: Let me say first of all we always want to be careful as an international institution that when there’s a political issue, we don’t take sides. We can take a side on what everybody agrees on: the need for peace. What people look to international institutions like ours is to provide factual, objective advice, and we are already doing that. One of the things that the World Bank is doing now is providing help both for Indonesia and the people of Aceh to conduct a survey of former GAM fighters on how they can better reintegrate into society. Indeed, I think there’s a relationship between the peace process and the reconstruction process because the peace process will be strengthened if those people who were involved in the war before are now leading productive, peaceful lives. In that sense we can also help. I think the peace process is an essential foundation of the reconstruction and development process in Aceh, because without peace it’s very hard to have development. And as the leader of an institution whose goal is development, I am really very pleased that there is a peace process. We will do everything that we can to help reinforce it.

Question: (Jakarta Post) What is the World Bank doing to help the reconstruction process that goes in line with peace, equality and corruption avoidance?

Paul Wolfowitz: Again, those responsibilities fall first of all on the Government of Indonesia and on the people of Aceh, and I am happy to see that it seems to me they’re working together well. But in fact we are able to help here in Aceh on some other issues including, I think it was recently concluded, that a survey on some of the illegal charges that were being imposed on some of the choppers that came in and out of the province. I think the result of that survey can help the local government of Aceh and the national government in Jakarta figure out ways to reduce those kinds of bribes. We’re here to help, and I think we’re able to be helpful.

Question: As you said, Indonesia is the 3rd biggest democracy. Does the World Bank have some kind of mechanism to create incentives for countries to develop their democracy ?

Paul Wolfowitz: In general, democratic institutions support good development, so it’s in that context we look at it. I think for Indonesia from the things I hear and read, most Indonesians agree that the country’s biggest development problem is corruption. I have talked to foreigners who thought about investing in Indonesia, and they said (corruption) is the thing that worries them the most. I hear that’s what Indonesian investors have also said. What I am encouraged about is that so many people in Indonesia are taking this problem seriously. I think in dealing with the problem of corruption, Indonesia will need a free press. But even then, it’s going to be a difficult job, and one which is essential for Indonesia’s economic development.

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