Wed, 05 Apr 2000

Govt urged to account for delay in reform program

JAKARTA (JP): The President's National Economic Council urged the government on Tuesday to provide a full account of any delays in implementing the reform measures agreed to with the International Monetary Fund.

"We remain confident the targets of the reform measures will still be fulfilled by their deadlines. But if any of them fall behind schedule, the government should account for it to the people," council chairman Emil Salim said.

Emil was speaking after meeting with President Abdurrahman Wahid, who, despite the national holiday for the Hindu Day of Silence, had a busy schedule with several meetings.

The IMF announced recently it would delay the disbursement of US$400 million in loans to Indonesia until mid-May due to the government's failure to complete the agreed reform measures by the March 31 deadline, as stipulated in the government's Letter of Intent to the IMF Executive Board on Jan. 20.

The President, apparently surprised by the delay, ordered his ministers to complete the programs by the middle of this month at the latest.

Emil said the delay in implementing several reform programs was caused by the finance minister's preoccupation with preparing the 2000 state budget.

"But we believe that even if the finance minister was so engrossed with the budget preparations, other Cabinet ministers should have accomplished their tasks on schedule," he said.

President Abdurrahman, according to Emil, is fully committed to fulfilling all the reform measures as stipulated in the Letter of Intent.

"We hope the government will stick to the new schedule set for the reform measures, which should have been implemented by the end of last month," Emil said.

Asked about the impact of postponing the increase in fuel prices from the original date of April 1, which will result in a larger amount of subsidy spending, Emil said the government should review its operating budget plan.

Also attending the meeting with the President on Tuesday were a number of other council members, including Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Bambang Subianto and Gunarni Soeworo.