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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New measures planned to help corporate sector

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is set to unveil a new economic policy aimed at helping revive the country's corporate sector, which was hard hit by the fuel price hikes and ensuing economic slowdown last year.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono said a presidential instruction setting out concrete programs to help resolve problems in the "real sector" was expected to galvanize activity and confidence in the business community.

"With this instruction, all the economic ministries will be given particular responsibilities and time-bound targets for the implementation of the program," said Boediono on the sidelines of a ceremony at the presidential palace Monday.

Boediono, a former finance minister under the previous administration of Megawati Soekarnoputri, refused to provide details of the planned economic policy other than saying it would include the streamlining of customs procedures.

Analysts are forecasting that the country's consumption-driven economic growth this year will be lower than the government's initial forecast of 6.2 percent amid high oil prices, a weak investment climate and possible electricity hikes.

The World Bank's country director for Indonesia, Andrew Steer, has said that gross domestic product in Southeast Asia's largest economy might only grow between 5 and 5.5 percent.

Meanwhile, visiting executives of the European Business Chamber of Commerce (Eurocham) said the government should accelerate the construction of infrastructure projects, and the completion of new investment and tax laws to help encourage foreign investment.

"The government needs to make progress with new investment and taxation laws, as well as accelerate the construction of infrastructure to help drive the economy," said visiting Eurocham executive Lord Charles Powell of Bayswater.
Powell made the remark after meeting Vice President Jusuf Kalla to highlight the problems confronting the overseas business community in Indonesia.

"It will take time to get the economy on the right track and get foreign investment coming back into this country on a bigger scale. I am just encouraging the Vice President to go ahead with these steps," he said.
Powell is a former private secretary, and foreign affairs and defense adviser to former British prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, respectively.

Powell is currently a board member of and advisor to several major international companies, including Louis-Vuitton Moet Hennessy, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Rolls-Royce, Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst and Barrick Gold.

Rendi Akhmad Witular,
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

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