INFID * INFID's Short News Overview No. VII/10: June 9-15, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

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INFID, June 15, 2006

INFID's Short News Overview No. VII/10: June 9-15, 2006

Debt & Poverty

CGI pledges $5.4billion for 2006 budget, reconstruction

The Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) has pledged US$5.4 billion in total loans and grants this year to support the government's medium-term development and reconstruction of disaster areas.

The commitment, which the country's group of major creditors made during its annual meeting with the government on June 14, will consist of $3.9 billion in funds to help finance the 2006 state budget, and $1.5 billion in grants to be disbursed directly to the public outside the budget, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono told a media conference.

The budgetary support funds will consist of $3.7 billion in program and project loans, with the remaining $200 million in technical assistance grants to support the government's reform agenda.

The $1.5 billion in grants, meanwhile, will mostly consist of CGI's preliminary commitment for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Yogyakarta and Central Java, which were devastated the May 27 earthquake that caused Rp 29 trillion ($3.1 billion) in losses.

Read more: http://www.infid.be/cgi_pledges_2006.htm.

Related article:

'Govt needs to borrow more from domestic sources': http://www.infid.be/cgi_borrow_domestic.htm.

Preliminary Damage and Lost Assessment Yogyakarta and Central Java Natural Disaster: http://www.infid.be/preliminary_assessment.pdf.

Consultative Group Meeting for Indonesia Statement by Stephen Schwartz: http://www.infid.be/cgi_imf_statement.htm.

The World Bank Brief for the Consultative Group on Indonesia: http://www.infid.be/CGI_Brief_2006_WB.pdf.

Source: JP 15/06

Govt to increase education spending to 10% of budget

The government can only afford to increase national education spending to 10 percent, or Rp 38 trillion (US$4.13 billion), of the state budget this year, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati says. Sri said the state's limited finances meant it was impossible for the government to earmark the extra Rp 16.9 trillion needed to meet the 20 percent requirement for education spending set by the Constitution.

"The government's position is that we will focus on maintaining the current electricity rates by allocating more subsidies. This, the President has made clear. So there will be no sharp rise in the budget for education," she said.

The Constitutional Court has ruled the government is in violation of the Constitution for not allocating 20 percent of its budget to education. Mulyani said if the government was forced to meet the requirement, it would have to raise electricity rates and scrap funding allocations for infrastructure projects and the reconstruction of earthquake-devastated Yogyakarta.

However, during a meeting between the government and House of Representatives leaders on June 6, it was agreed that the 20 percent requirement could be met next year.

Indonesian education budgets have long been among the smallest in Asia, with spending standing at around 1.5 percent of gross domestic product, as compared to 5.3 percent in South Korea and 2.8 percent in Vietnam, according to the 2003 data from the World Bank. Economists say the lack of skilled human resources here has contributed to the country's slow pace of development.

Source: JP 08/06

General News

Law expert: Prosecutors' decree dropping charges against Suharto is unlawful

A legal expert testified on June 9 that a decree dropping corruption charges against former dictator Suharto was unlawful and could be revoked.

On May 12, the South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office issued a decree, citing the health of the former strongman, who was then being treated at hospital for internal bleeding following colon surgery. He earlier reportedly suffered several strokes and has a heart ailment.An alliance of three human rights and anti-Suharto groups filed a lawsuit against the decree, arguing it was premature to drop the charges and that prosecutors lack the authority to annul a case already processed by the court. The group also found the decree mistakenly cited some irrelevant chapters in the Criminal Code Procedures.

Anna Erliana, an expert in state administration and legal procedures, testified that the mistake might be due to negligence by the chief prosecutor for signing the decree without checking.

"The referred chapters could be corrected ... but since the decree was already publicized, the mistake can cause the decree to be revoked for the sake of law," said Erliana, a lecturer on the state-run Indonesia University's law faculty.

Marwan Effendi, a prosecutor attending the hearing, rejected the claim, telling reporters that the discrepancy was merely a "mistake of the typewriter."

Related article:

Suharto family looks headed for a comeback: http://www.infid.be/suharto_family_back.htm.

Source: AP 09/06

Legislators take stand against sharia laws

Concerned by the creeping Islamization of the country's secular state, 56 national legislators are urging President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to abolish sharia-based bylaws already in place or risk the country's disintegration.

In a petition, which included signatories from Muslim-based political parties, the House members said local administrations' implementation of the bylaws contravened the 1945 Constitution and the five principles enshrined in the Pancasila state ideology.

"The deliberation and implementation of bylaws should have been carried out according to the 1945 Constitution and Pancasila, and within the framework of the Unitary State of Indonesia," one of the signatories, Constant Ponggawa of the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS), said on June 13 during a meeting with the House leadership to express their views. Constant said that the President should move quickly to nullify the bylaws or the state faced disintegration.

Gayus Lumbuun of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) said the petition was aimed at creating a powerful legislative movement to reverse the drive for Islamization of the country.

Aside from nationalist politicians from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the PDS, a number of Muslim politicians, including Nusron Wahid and Helmy Faishal of the National Awakening Party (PKB) and Anwar Sanusi of the United Development Party (PPP), were present during the meeting. Politicians from nationalist political parties included Trimedya Panjaitan, Permadi and Wayan Koster of the PDI-P, Carol D. Kadang and Jeffrey Massie of the PDS and Joko Purwongemboro of the Golkar Party and Muhammad A.S. Hikam of the PKB.

The petition is the first cross-factional campaign to oppose the passing of Islamist-oriented regulations. Currently, 22 regencies and municipalities have implemented sharia-influenced bylaws. Some of the bylaws criminalize conduct prohibited under Islamic law, such as adultery, alcoholism and prostitution. Some of the regulations have been criticized for restricting public freedom, especially women's dress.

Read more: http://www.infid.be/sharia_legislator.htm.

Related article:

Govt waffles on demand to scrap sharia bylaws: http://www.infid.be/govt_sharia.htm.

Source: JP 14/06

Militant Islamic Cleric released

Radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir walked out of a Jakarta jail on June 14 after serving time for links to the 2002 Bali bombings, calling on jubilant supporters to join forces for the spread of Islamic law.

Australia's foreign minister voiced concern about the release of a man who believes in "jihadist principles" and a U.S. embassy spokesman said his sentence had been light considering the crime.

Read more: http://www.infid.be/bashir_freed.htm.

Australia, U.S. deeply disappointed: http://www.infid.be/bashir_aus_us.htm.

Indonesia's Bashir says extremists misguided, Australia urges monitoring: http://www.infid.be/extremists_misguided.htm.

Source: Reuters 14/06

Independent body is needed to protect environment

Indonesia urgently needs an independent body to root out illegal logging, mining and other environmental law violations, and to curb forest destruction, said a respected environmentalist. Former environment minister Emil Salim said illegal activities such as fishing, logging and mining, which continue unchecked, are damaging the country's environment.

"We should establish a team on a par with the Corruption Eradication Commission find the violators," he said.

Emil said a strong monitoring team would protect the environment so it would be better and healthier for the country's next generations.

Sonny Keraf, a former environment minister during the Abdurrahman Wahid administration, voiced similar concerns.

"Those who have been harming our environment don't get punished. We make rules but many people break them," Sonny said.

He blamed the relevant government agencies for failing to display a serious commitment to improving the situation. Sonny, a lawmaker with Commission VII on the environment, said the House was considering empowering the State Ministry for Environment to monitor, investigate and punish environmental lawbreakers.

Read more: http://www.infid.be/environment_independent_body.htm.

Source:JP 12/06

Aceh

House dismayed by slow Aceh reconstruction

House of Representatives lawmakers are unhappy with the performance of the Aceh-Nias Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (BRR). In its single year of existence the BRR had done little to build much-needed infrastructure in Aceh and Nias, House Speaker Agung Laksono said.

"We are very disappointed (with the BRR) as we had imagined that brand-new cities would rise from the debris of regions hit by the tsunami. But this has not materialized," Agung said.

Agung said that in the two hardest-hit areas in Banda Aceh, Lampase and Uleuleu, conditions were virtually the same as they were days after the tidal wave struck on Dec 26, 2004.

"There is no city planning; everything is in chaos. The results don't match the excessive amounts of foreign aid that has poured in," he said.

Earlier this week during a visit to Aceh, Agung said he was concerned about the poor quality of houses the BRR built for tsunami survivors. Many did not even have toilets, he said.

Responding to Agung's criticism, BRR chief Kuntoro Mangkusubroto said his agency would improve the quality of more than 41,000 houses scheduled to be built later this year.

Read more: http://www.infid.be/aceh_slow.htm.

Source: JP 10/06

Abbreviations

AFP Agence France-Presse
AP Associated Press
JP The Jakarta Post
 


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