20 May 2008

What Money Can Buy

What Money Can Buy

What do people think about their fortune? To some people fortune means power, assets or women or even all of them combined together. To others fortune would mean compassion, ammunition, means to help other less fortunate people. It’s a real fact that not all fortunate people realize that their fortune was only given to them by God as custody. It’s not a secret that many fortunate people think that they are what they are because of their hard work or luck so they think that they deserve everything, that others who are unfortunate were a bunch of lazy people.

I once met an old friend who is already old and he owns a company engaging in infrastructure business. He told me that the project is very feasible and attractive that he has spent so much money in conducting the study. He proposed the project to the regional government which was responded positively, he was awarded the project by Governor. The problems soon emerge one by one, technically and financially. Technically it was solved, unfortunately financial problem seemed to be far from being solved. He is seeking fund everywhere, since it is a long term project, very few people interested. Among the interested people, they required conditions which were hardly acceptable to him. Some of them offered him a golden shake hand to kiss the project goodbye with a handsome amount of money. Those are not what he wants, he has a dream, he wants to build and develop the infrastructure that would give benefit to people, even though he has no money yet.

One day, this old friend was arranged to meet somebody that is believed can help to settle this financial problem. He and his directors paid a visit to this so called famous guy, a former president director of a quite big national bank. This guy asked some questions to his guests and soon came to conclusion that the guests have nothing but ideas and dream. Despite the fact that it is normal for any project finance to have a zero capital, the guy kept questioning the financial ability of my friend, as the project owner. Frankly, my friend told him that they only have so much amount of money which comparing to the total project cost look very small, peanut. This guy seemed to forget that the original intention of the group visiting him was to seek his assistance in seeking fund to finance the project. Other than giving a constructive advice, the big guy told my friend to back off and surrender the project to government. The big guy even mentioned to ask regional government to issue sort of municipal bond to finance the project, consequently the existing project owner would have to surrender the concession and would act as contractor with fee basis only. He mentioned the fee basis as if it was the ultimate goal to my friend. He did not believe in sentimental reason, to him, people with no money do not deserve a chance to realize their dream. Had my friend had so much money, he would not have come to his office. This big guy boasted during the meeting that he would assist the government in issuing the bond and the project owner would be given around 2% fee out of the total project cost, which he thought would be more than enough to my old friend. He also mentioned about timing, why my friend should wait until 7 or 10 years before gaining profit, in other words, he would say that there would not be enough time for my friend to enjoy the profit.

My poor old friend only smiled during the meeting but deep inside his heart was broken. I do understand his feeling being insulted and disgraced like that, so much for fund raising. He was no opportunist kind of person, his goal was clear, had he planned for easy money, he would have been very rich by now. He had refused some interesting offers just to make sure that this project was developed by the right people so that it could meet the original objective, public welfare.

When he told me the story, I just realized that no wonder why this country is falling down to the bottom. If the financial people who should have supported national business’ growth only made a laugh at it, who would give help to Indonesian businessmen who really intend to do good business? On behalf of fee basis the official of Indonesian government would be pleased to sell any national assets to foreign companies, for a ‘small’ fee basis they are willing to sell this country to anybody who wants it. So ‘in money we trust’ has become their attitude. What a poor country we have. Then I guess we’d better add one line to ‘what money can buy’, “intelligence but not senses”.

Gusnelia T. Prasetyo (Nela Dusan)
Rasuna, 2006

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