Bali Development, Who is it for?

Bali News, Denpasar – It was so concerning, at the beginning of 2010 a word got out in a local newspaper that a small part of the Karangasem regional community can no longer buy rice that they eat cassava and parched rice instead (Bali Post, 10/01/10). This certainly is ironic considering the economic growth of Bali in 2009 which reached 5.7% or above average national economic growth of 5%. Bali is also known as the 42% contributor to national income (Metro TV, 22/01/10), so it is imaginable how wealth is created in this area. On one side is the fact that the Balinese thrive in the economic field, while on the other hand there are some people that are still not as prosperous that they could not even afford basic needs. There are the facts that visible construction progress such as the addition to roadway width to “beautify” the tourism access to the eastern area of Bali, in the bypass Prof. Ida Bagus Mantra, where billions of rupiah are invested for this project. While on the other side, the community in Bali Eastern region can not even afford a kilogram of rice for 7,000 rupiahs. In the midst of uproar and sparkling development of the regional economy, there is still the fact that some Balinese have not enjoyed their sweetness and they could even be said as marginalized communities. How did this happen? Development in Bali is for whom?

The benefits of the presence of foreign and local investors have been felt directly by the people of Bali extensively to raise welfare, but it does not felt by all levels of society. With the fact that there are still some Balinese who cannot acquire adequate basic needs indicates that there is an inequality in the development. Even according to the statistical data of the year 2008, 6.7% of Balinese are categorized as ‘poor’ (Bali Central Bureau of Statistics). Investments and their results are concentrated in tourist areas, such as Badung, Nusa Dua, Kuta, Denpasar, Gianyar, and its surroundings. It seems only be enjoyed by local people or migrants who live in the area, not by some local communities in remote areas such as Singaraja and Karangasem. The decline of agricultural activities in Bali also contributes to the severity of poverty in regions far from the center of this tourism island.

Whether we realize it or not, capitalism brought by the tourism industry has entered the realm of Balinese society that has gradually shifted the Balinese thinking concept itself, from an agrarian society with a philosophy based on strong kinship towards an urban industrial society that tends to be individualistic. This shift eventually led to the lack of humanitarian sensibilities while triggered by a competition to achieve the highest economic welfare by each individual, and even tend to justify any means to obtain it. Individualistic attitudes that tend to take advantage for oneself or one’s group can be seen in how the governments manage development funds. As reported by the Bali Post newspaper (11/01/10), the development budget for Karangasem district in the year 2010 allocated to buy Raskin (rice for poor people) is around 98 million rupiahs while the budget for government officials’ official trips (local and international) is 7 billion rupiahs. In this case, it is obvious that the development budget for the poor tends to be disproportionately handled and logically thought to only provide the needed supplementary budget in order to enjoy the fruits of development to merely live a decent life.

The tourism industry which actually depends on the actual human culture (society) as the spine of the region should be placed as the highest asset to be maintained. Without maintenance, human culture will erode and will cause Bali tourism to have no charm anymore. In fact, the capitalists or investors in tourism world tend to want to dredge all Bali natural resources supported by the government to provide access and facilities, while they do not care for Bali natural resources, including not returning some of its results to the general public. The government as a motor or fund manager in the form of industrial output such as tax, does not show significant partiality to the poor.

Noble concepts rooted in the people of Bali have faded. The Tri Hita Karana concept which teaches the need for harmonization between man, God, and the environment is done only as a concept used for the ceremonial events in the form of competitions designed for the business entities, but not practiced in the field of economics in Bali’ public real life. When referring to the noble concept of Tri Hita Karana, the development of Bali should be lead to the three things contained in it. Development budgets should be directed to eradicate poverty which is a mandate of God that will certainly be spiritually fruitful to the donor (the government and investors). With peace and social security, the employer can be calm in Bali. Economic development should also be used to preserve nature and not causing damage to nature instead, such as the development of tourism facilities on the green area or productive agricultural land.
If you refer back to the roots of Balinese culture, Tri Hita Karana, the inequality of this development is contradictory to the concept of Balinese culture. Dullness in sense of brotherhood or materialistic social effect has resulted in disharmony of human relations. This fact can be said as the effect of the uneven development system that eventually eroded the roots of Balinese culture itself. Besides creating potential inequality, uneven development is also a factor that can cause social problems, such as the increase in crimes, social conflicts in society, and so on. Tri Hita Karana philosophy has been eroded by the capitalist culture that ultimately gives more profit for those who invest in Bali rather than for the community itself.

Investors should be conditioned by the government to take care of Balinese culture and return some of the results to the public through the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs. If every businessman was invited to develop the economy of underdeveloped villages in Bali, there is no doubt that there will be more development can be felt in every way. Current CSR programs are carried out by only a handful of new entrepreneurs in Bali and still taking the form of light activities such as planting trees or communal work activities, that the benefits have not been felt by the joints of community life. More fundamental CSR programs are certainly needed, such as mentoring programs of small and medium industries, education, proper farm management, hygiene education and public health, etc. Entrepreneurs who understand management are expected to provide education and further community management of rural business activities or provide capital for their business development. In this case, the government can not just wait for the entrepreneurs’ conscience but had to use the power to “force” employers to do the CSR program.

In terms of equitable distribution of development, the government as the key holder of the policy areas has a very big role. The strong sense of brotherhood which is the root of Balinese culture should be reinforced through the philosophy of government. One of the noble values of a culture is a responsive step taken for every economic imbalance that occurred in Bali due to political policies that tend to lead to the interests of rulers and particular groups. Erosion of the noble values due to cultural materialism and cultural influences coming into the joints of government will inevitably lead the destruction of Bali.

Balinese people’s welfare can not only be seen from the figures that indicate fantastic economic growth from year to year because in reality, but they were also just fantastic as numbers not as benefits for the society. The logic of prosperity should mean that no more people will be living below the poverty line, no more stories about Balinese children being dropped out of school due to lack of fees, no more sick people declining hospital treatment because they had no money, no more beggars on the streets leaving in their hometown just to beg for some money. The results of economic growth should be felt equally by the Balinese community from the upper to the lower class, and not from the upper but never got to the downstream.
-ketut suasti-

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