Thu, 30 Mar 2000

Gus Dur urged to get serious about recovery

JAKARTA (JP): Despite its popular legitimacy, the government of President Abdurrahman Wahid has shown a lack of concern for economic recovery and made political moves that sowed uncertainty, a legislator and an economist said on Wednesday.

Speaking in a seminar organized by Strategic Intelligence, House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Akbar Tandjung said that the main reasons for the delay in capital inflow to revive the economy was that the national economy was not yet the focus of the government.

"The government does not have the sense of urgency in economic fields. Instead, the President has made statements that further sparked economic uncertainty."

He noted that Abdurrahman's remarks about military coup attempts and differences of opinion between him and the military fostered the perception among foreign investors that the country remained unsafe.

The government's plan to review business contracts with foreign enterprises which were considered flawed and unrewarding to the country was another contributor to investor jitters, he added.

He said the President's round of overseas trips to attract foreign investors would be fruitless without stability.

Akbar, who also heads the Golkar Party, said the government could not justify the failure of its economic recovery, considering that the President had established many boards and appointed domestic and foreign advisers to assist him.

The government has set up two economic boards -- the National Business Development Council led by tycoon Sofyan Wanandi and the National Economic Council headed by Emil Salim -- and an assistance team for the coordinating minister for the economy, finance and industry, Kwik Kian Gie.

Abdurrahman also appointed former foreign leaders such as Henry Kissinger and Lee Kuan Yew along with Indonesian chief economist Widjojo Nitisastro as his advisers.

"I urge the government to give an all-out effort to revive the current economic condition because it is the basic thing to prevent further social unrest," he said.

Noted economist Sjahrir said that despite Abdurrahman's pledge to put the economic recovery as the main priority of his Cabinet, the government was sluggish in its efforts.

"I do not understand the reasons for establishing many economic boards ... what are they doing, because it is obvious that no significant improvements have occurred in the last five months," Sjahrir said.

To improve the economic condition, Sjahrir underscored the importance of law enforcement, especially in solving high-profile graft cases implicating former president Soeharto and the Bank Bali scandal.

"If the government could show serious intentions in upholding the law, foreign investors will give their support."

He said the government was built on full legitimacy and there should be no reason to delay effecting economic recovery.(dja)