Jakarta. Vice President Jusuf Kalla received the visit of the Indonesian Muslim Scholar Association (ICMI) presidium board members, led by its chairman Sugiharto, today at his office.

Mr Sugiharto, opening the talk, invited the Vice President to attend to the 6th ICMI national congress in conjunction with the 25th ICMI anniversary, which will be held at Mataram University in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, on 13 to 15 December 2015.

President Joko Widodo, he continued, is planned to officially open the congress taking the theme of “Roadmap to the Dignified Indonesia”, while Vice President Jusuf Kalla is arranged to close the event.

Mr Sugiharto then reported ICMI’s programs focusing on how to make a balance between science and technology, and religious knowledge. He also said that to promote entrepreneurship among Muslim people, the body has a priority program called “Satu Desa, Satu BMT” (One Village, One BMT (sharia based microfinance company))” to improve public welfare.

In response, the Vice President appreciated ICMI’s contribution to the nation so far. He then recounted the history of ICMI foundation in 1990 initiated by a small group of Brawijaya University students who pushed themselves to meet up with B.J. Habibie who was the Research and Technology Minister at the time.

“It was Friday. Those students were ready to stand right behind Mr Habibie during the Friday prayer so that they can talk directly to him after the prayer,” he said.

Concerning “Satu Desa, Satu BMT” program, Mr Kalla said the government already had a similar program called people’s business credit (KUR) program for small and medium enterprises. The government even instructed state-owned banks to prepare fundings up to 100 trillion rupiahs for the program next year.

Therefore, the Vice President asked ICMI to help supervise the program and mobilize middle class Muslims to make use of it.

“Surely we need to develop enterpreneurship among the youth and middle-class Muslims. ICMI should not take its role in grassroots as there are already Nahdhatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah. We should not multiply the number of institutions, but we need to optimize the existing institutions,” he argued.

According to the Vice President, government will establish KUR program for public with interest of 9 percent per year, to promote national economic growth and public welfare.

At the visit, Mr Sugiharto went together with other ICMI board members such as M. Jafar Hafsah, Priyo Budi Santoso, Marwah Daud Ibrahim, and Ilham Akbar Habibie.