Prof. Dr. Widjojo Nitisastro has been known as the primary architect of the Indonesia economy in the New Order era. He took that important role again when the economic crisis hit Indonesia in 1997. No wonder if Newsweek called the founder of the Institute of Demography FEBUI as “the man who is no doubt, having the greatest individual impact on the Indonesian economy“. Prof. Dr. Widjojo is an alumnus of FEBUI, graduated with Cum Laude predicate. After that, he continued his study of economics and demography at the University of California at Berkeley and 3.5 years later, he obtained his PhD in Economics.
Prof. Dr. Widjojo is a gentleman with brilliant mind. He is trusted to carry out important tasks by government and academia. Since 1953, he had become a planner at the State Planning Board. He became the Director of LPEM FEBUI and Dean of FEB UI (1964-1968), member of the Governing Council of the United Nations Institute of Development (1967), Head of the National Development Planning Agency (1967-1971), and Minister of State for National Development Planning (1971-1973). He also concurrently became Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs and Head of the National Development Planning Agency (1973-1978 and 1978-1983).
After that, he remained active as an Economic Adviser for the President. Widjojo is often regarded as the leader of the Berkeley Mafia – the nickname given to a group of economist and finance minister – who have a large influence in determining the policy of the Indonesian economy in the early days of New Order era. While Abdurrahman Wahid was becoming president, Widjojo was asked to lead the Indonesian economist team at the Paris Club meeting in mid-April 2000. The mission of this team is to negotiate rescheduling of public debt payments. The team request was approved by the donor group, consisting of 19 member states. Prof. Dr. Mohammad Sadli praised Widjojo’s role. According to Sadli, 95 percent of Indonesia delegation work was the result of Widjojo’s leadership and determination.
His hard work made him received numerous awards. But he remains a true intellectual who has a large concern on the advancement of education. He was the first man making suggestion on the development of University of Indonesia’s new campus. Many people regard him as the ‘primus inter pares’ (the first among the first). Prof. Dr. Widjojo Nitisastro died in Jakarta at the age of 84 years in March 2012.