Academia officials express frustration over World Bank’s premature declaration of ‘free lunch’

The World Bank’s comment about presumptive president Prabowo Subianto’s free school lunch program has caused anger among government officials, including a senior cabinet member. However, their frustration is not related to the substance of the bank’s statement but its timing. The officials are concerned that the early mention from a global institution could be perceived as “cawe cawe” (interference) in the country’s internal affairs.

This incident serves as a lesson for foreign diplomats and international institutions to exercise caution when making statements that could be perceived as meddling in “murky waters,” especially during this sensitive post-election period. In this particular case, they must avoid statements that could be used as ammunition by winners and losers of the Feb. 14 election and their respective supporters to attack each other.

A senior government official told The Jakarta Post on Friday, “What the World Bank did could be understood as an attempt to interfere in our domestic affairs. This is sensitive, especially amid the current political situation.” Satu Kähkönen, the bank’s Indonesia and Timor-Leste country director, visited Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto at his office to discuss various matters, including the draft 2025 state budget and the free lunch program. Kähkönen stated after the meeting, as quoted by Antara, “We hope that Indonesia will stick to the maximum limit of deficit, which is three percent of GDP as stipulated by the law, and will also maintain macroeconomic and fiscal stability.”

By Riley Johnson

As a content writer at newsmol.com, I dive into the depths of information to craft compelling stories that captivate and inform readers. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, I strive to create engaging content that resonates with our audience. Whether it's breaking news, in-depth features, or thought-provoking opinion pieces, I am dedicated to delivering high-quality, informative content that keeps readers coming back for more. My goal is to bring a fresh perspective to every article I write and to make a meaningful impact through the power of words.

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