Poverty Reduction in Indonesia: Why Pro-Poor Growth Requires more than 'Getting Institutions Right.'

Thirkell-White, Ben
April 2009
Labour, Capital & Society;2009 Special Issue, Vol. 42 Issue 1/2, p140
Academic Journal
Indonesia provides a key reference point for debates about contemporary World Bank poverty policy. A particular reading of Indonesia's past informs an important part of the Bank's thinking on 'pro-poor growth'. The Asian crisis and the fall of Suharto's New Order have also provided a very significant opening for Bank researchers to shape post-crisis policy in Indonesia's present. Indonesia is pioneering some of the Bank's more innovative recent approaches, notably the Kecamatan Development Project (a system for disbursing very large-scale funds through village-level decision-making structures). This paper uses a review of the Indonesian experience to inform a critical engagement with the post-Washington Consensus agenda and some of its critics. It will argue that the Bank's 'apolitical' development agenda continues to keep central issues off the development agenda in ways that are problematic - particularly questions about government attempts to influence the allocation of capital in ways that might generate more inclusive growth. However, the paper also asks whether some of the changes promoted by the Bank may also be radicalised in ways that might point in a more progressive direction and explore some possible political strategies, suggested by the Indonesian experience, to capitalise on the broadening of the aid agenda that the post-Washington Consensus represents.


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