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Graft forces Indonesia to beg for money JAKARTA - Indonesia would not need to "beg" for money from the international community if it tackled the corruption costing the cash-strapped country some $28.4 billion a year, an outspoken minister said. In typically blunt comments, Planning Minister Kwik Kian Gie told donors meeting in Bali that among the losses to the state from graft, Indonesia was losing around $9 billion from stolen or smuggled logs, fish and sand and $8 billion from tax leakages.
"We are disregarding such funds of $28.4 billion but today we are begging you gentlemen for an amount of around $3 billion," Kwik said in a statement obtained on Wednesday. His comments were delivered to donors under the Consultative Group on Indonesia during closed-door meetings on Tuesday.
Donors have signalled they would grant Jakarta's request for $2.65 billion aid to help fund this year's budget deficit and are scheduled to announce an exact figure later in the day. At the last annual meeting of donors at the end of 2001, Kwik said he was embarrassed to be begging for loans and warned some of the money might get pilfered.
Donors meeting in Bali, to the surprise of some analysts, have been sympathetic to Jakarta's decision to roll-back recent utility price rises in response to nationwide protests. They also appeared unfazed by government comments on Tuesday that Jakarta wanted a stop to IMF loans by the year-end. The International Monetary Fund has guided much-needed economic reforms since Indonesia stumbled during the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s.
Indonesia has already scored points from the 30-plus bilateral and multinational donors for its progress in fighting militants, especially after last October's deadly Bali bombings, and for striking a landmark peace deal in troubled Aceh province. Kwik, a former chief economics minister, has been the key opponent within government to the IMF's $5 billion loan pact, saying it was only adding to the country's mountain of debt.
Despite his opposition to the IMF and other economic policies of the government, Kwik has not faced the threat of dismissal, partly due to his closeness to President Megawati Sukarnoputri and her desire to avoid the revolving-door cabinets of previous administrations, political analysts have said.
On corruption, Kwik said Indonesia's salary structure was not linked to merit or ability and needed to be overhauled and the country's massive bureaucracy reformed. But he said corruption was not just limited to low-paid workers.



Posted in Economy @ 22 January 2003 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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