Top business group meets to set course of economy
Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta Mon, 12/22/2008 11:07 AM Headlines
The nation’s most powerful business lobby group, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), used its national meeting on Sunday to set out recommendations for the government’s economic program in 2009.
While there is no serious indication yet that Kadin’s support for the government is waning, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is unlikely to take any suggestions from the group lightly, especially ahead of next year’s election.
Kadin, perceived by many as the “Kadin Party”, played a crucial role in supporting Yudhoyono in the 2004 presidential election after the incumbent president Megawati Soekarnoputri was deemed “unfriendly” to the group.
During the meeting, attended by Yudhoyono and top economic ministers, Kadin chairman Mohamad Suleman Hidayat set out nine recommendations for the government for next year, designed particularly to limit the impact of the global economic downturn.
Among the recommendations are tax cuts, acceleration in the construction of infrastructure and aggressive fiscal expansion.
“There are a lot of things the government should work at next year. Protection for domestic businesses is necessary to cope with the global economic slowdown,” said Hidayat, who will extend his term as Kadin chairman for another four years.
But it was not all one-sided, with Acting Coordinating Minister for the Economy Sri Mulyani Indrawati scolding her critics in Kadin, saying the lobby group asked too much from the government.
“Kadin should not complain all the time. They will miss some opportunities. In all this time, Kadin has said too much but listened too little,” Mulyani said in her characteristically light tone.
“Sometimes what Kadin is asking is a bit confusing. They are requesting facilities similar to those of advanced economies which are currently being hit hard by the crisis. They should not worry so much.”
During the meeting, the government pledged to expedite numerous infrastructure projects next year to help maintain economic growth and avoid massive unemployment.
According to Mulyani, the central government will finish channeling Rp 24 trillion (US$2.2 billion) in infrastructure funds to the regions to help maintain their growth.
The government also plans to spend a total of Rp 72 trillion on numerous infrastructure-related projects to be carried out by the central government.
The sum includes Rp 25.8 trillion from the Public Works Ministry, Rp 12.6 trillion from the Transportation Ministry, Rp 4.5 trillion from the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, Rp 3.5 trillion from the Trade Ministry, Rp 2.8 trillion from the Finance Ministry and Rp 2.2 trillion from the Religious Affairs Ministry.
The Public Works Ministry opened 2009 projects to public tender even before lawmakers had approved its budget.
During the meeting Yudhoyono repeated his call for businesses not to be too quick to dismiss workers as it would increase the country’s already high level of unemployment.
“Businesses should not be too hasty to decide to lay off their workers before consulting with the central government, or with regional administrations,” he said.
There are officially around 9.3 million unemployed people in Indonesia. As the country has no social security policy, the jobless figure could actually be as high as 40 million.
Commerce : perniagaan / perdagangan
Industry : industri
economic ministers : kementrian ekonomi
economic downturn : naik turunnya perekonomian
tax cut : Potongan pajak
fiscal expansion : perluasan fiscal / pajak
domestic businesses : bisnis domestic
advanced economies : ekonomi lanjutan
infrastructure : infrastruktur
Finance Ministry : mentri keuangan