Came across an interesting story in The Economist about how an NGO called 5th Pillar is distributing Zero Rupee cupons in India as part of the fight against corruption and bribery. It is of no commercial value but comes in valuable when officials ask you for a bribe.
That’s when you pay them the Zero Rupee note. Crooked officials apaprently have been so ashamed or stunned by being given these notes that they repent their ways.
Unspun wonders if a Zero Rupiah note would work in Indonesia?
Need one in Thailand, a zero Baht note…..I like that.
I also saw this article and immediately wondered if such an idea could work in Indonesia. But then I learned that 5th Pillar is actually being a little more proactive about helping the poor than just handing out monopoly money.
In 2005 the Right to Information Act was passed as a way of holding government departments, agencies and officials accountable. Citing the law, anyone can access government records within 30 days of their request. Yet the majority of the population have no idea how to use it in their everyday lives nor do they have access to the legal resources.
Last month 5th Pillar, which has 1,200 members and 6,000 online subscribers worldwide, opened drop-in centres staffed by volunteers able to help people to leverage the Act by drafting petitions and delivering them to the relevant government department.
“We want to empower people to fight for their rights,” Mr Anand said. “One lady had been waiting a year for her land title and was told she would only receive it if she paid a 7,500-rupee ‘fee’. She went back to the office with one of our volunteers and got the document in 30 minutes without paying anything.”
The reason the zero-rupee bills work isn’t because they remind officials to be honorable. It’s because the money is backed by an organization which will help people fight for their rights to public services without graft. The real question is, is there an organization in Indonesia with the guts to do the same thing?