LOMBOK. The World Bank, together with four Indonesian partners, namely Bank Indonesia ( BI ), the Financial Services Authority ( OJK ), and West Nusa Tenggara and East Lombok administrations, launched the Greenback 2.0 project, a transparent and efficient remittance program for Indonesian migrant workers, in Mataram on Wednesday.
The WB’s country sector coordinator for finance and markets, Christopher Juan Costain, said the Greenback 2.0 was developed in East Lombok to build a transparent and efficient remittance market, by increasing awareness of Indonesian migrant workers and their families about the existence and benefits of banking and other official financial services.
“The Greenback 2.0 project aims to increase the efficiency of the remittance market through innovative approaches and to promote changes inspired by real needs of the beneficiaries of remittance benefits, namely the Indonesian migrant workers and their families in their hometowns,” said Costain.
“Through the program, the Indonesian migrant workers and their families will get adequate information and access to existing financial services, and this can contribute to increase their prosperity,” he went on.
Costain said some might consider the Greenback project different from average activities conducted by the WB. “But we are enthusiastic about this project because it is very close to our heart,” he added.
The project’s launch was attended by West Nusa Tenggara administration regional secretary Muhammad Nur, the West Nusa Tenggara-chapter BI office head Prijono, the West Nusa Tenggara-chapter OJK head M.Yusri and several provincial administration and East Lombok administration officials.
Costain said the WB was carrying out the Greenback 2.0 project in Turin, Italy, Montreuil, France and Johor Bahru, Malaysia. However, he further said, the project in Lombok, Indonesia, was the first Greenback 2.0 project conducted in a remittance receiving country.
In every Greenback project, Costain said, the WB had seen positive impacts, such as increases in the amount of remittances channeled through formal lines and in public awareness on remittance services.
“The Greenback 2.0 project in Lombok also has unique benefits; it is interrelated to the similar project in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. So, interventions conducted can give better results,” he said.
According to the WB, East Lombok was selected as the target of the Greenback 2.0 project because the regency is the largest sender of Indonesian migrant workers, outnumbering Indramayu, West Java.
The East Lombok administration’s second regent assistant for economy and development, Musro Pranoto, said East Lombok dispatched up to 25,000 Indonesian migrant workers per year to various countries, mainly to Malaysia. The amount of remittances sent by the workers to their families via state-owned lenders, such as BRI and BNI, and state-owned postal company PT Pos Indonesia could reach Rp 800 billion ( US$58.68 million ) per year.
“The remittance sent by the Indonesian migrant workers to their hometowns is even larger than the budgetary allocations for salaries of the East Lombok administration officials, which reach only around Rp 700 billion per year,” said Musro.
“If it [the remittance] can be managed well, it will be very helpful to support regional development and to improve the prosperity of people in East Lombok,” he went on.
Musro said Indonesian migrant workers were still facing many problems in sending money for their families in their hometowns. These included high transfer fees, which reached around 5-10 percent, and illegal levies perpetrated by irresponsible persons. As the result, the money received by the workers’ families was lesser than it should be.
Musro hoped the Greenback 2.0 project could push down the high remittance transfer fee and make it easier for Indonesian migrant workers and their families to carry out banking transactions.
Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers ( BNP2TKI ) deputy director for protection, Lisna Pulungan, said the Greenback 2.0 project in East Lombok would be conducted in three villages, namely Loyok, Perigi and Tete Batu Selatan, which were known as main pocket areas of Indonesian migrant workers in the regency.
Lisna said there were many cases in which the amount of remittances sent by Indonesian migrant workers for their families was reduced in quite a significant amount due to high banking fees.
“In this project, WB will facilitate and push forward a low remittance transfer fee for Indonesian migrant workers. The remittance will be received safely by their families because it is transferred via a legal route,” said Lisna. (Panca Nugraha)