Jakarta. The government has launched the Indonesian Agency for International Development, an endowment and development fund to help reduce poverty and social inequality around the world.
The agency, to be known as Indonesian AID, is an overdue reflection of the country's stature as one of the biggest economies in the world.
"This is a very precious tool for Indonesian diplomacy [that we can use] to strengthen our presence on the international stage. Indonesia can now walk the talk in international development," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said at a ceremony to launch Indonesian AID at the Pancasila Building in Jakarta on Friday.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) chairman Bambang Brodjonegoro also attended the event.
Kalla said the program is long overdue as Indonesia's economy has grown six times into a $1 trillion dollar economy in the past two decades.
"This is a very important step for us because our economy is continuing to expand. We are now part of the G20 countries. We need to start helping other countries in need," Kalla said.
Retno said this year Indonesian AID has already provided aid for five Pacific countries – Tuvalu, Nauru, Solomon Island, Kiribati and Fiji – and for Myanmar and the Philippines.
Bappenas and the Finance Ministry will be responsible for managing the funding for this program.
"This endowment fund will be taken out of our state budget. We will use the interest, which increases each year. We already have Rp 3 trillion ($212 million) so far," Retno said.
According to the minister, the agency will focus on providing aid during times of natural disasters and for humanitarian crises.
Doing so will allow Indonesian AID to help reduce poverty and social inequality between developed and developing countries. This will increase Indonesia's participation in reaching the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
Retno also used Friday's event to announce that on Thursday Indonesia had been elected to sit in the UN Human Rights Council from 2020 to 2022. This is the fifth time the country has been asked to join the council.
"We received the most votes among other Asia-Pacific countries, 174 votes out of a total of 193 countries," Retno said.
Indonesia will officially join the council on Jan. 1 next year. It will sit with 47 other countries to find solutions for human rights violations and promote human rights protection all across the world.