Jakarta to send senior officials to IMF for talks

THE ASIAN ECONOMIC CRISIS

INDONESIA is sending a high-level delegation to the United States for talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next week, to help resolve the country’s deepening economic crisis, a senior official tipped to become the new Finance Minister said yesterday.

Mr Faud Bawazier, the Director-General of taxation, told reporters on the sidelines of the People’s Consulative Assembly (MPR) here that the purpose of the trip was to “continue consultations” with the IMF.

The delegation, which will include potential members of the new Cabinet to be formed after the presidential poll, would be headed by the government’s chief economic adviser, Mr Widjojo Nitisastro.

The trip to Washington, scheduled for next week, comes at a time of a standoff between the government and the IMF over their differing perceptions of economic reforms.

According to reports here, the IMF has delayed releasing a second US$3-billion (S$4.9-billion) tranche of funds from the bailout package for Indonesia simply because it wants to have discussions with the incoming Cabinet.

President Suharto’s new team might not be in place for several weeks, but observers here believe the crisis will provide impetus for him to name his Cabinet sooner.

Mr Faud did not comment on the specifics of what the team would discuss with the IMF in Washington but indicated that for Indonesia, “it is very important that the IMF programme continues and not end”.

President Suharto’s son, businessman Bambang Trihatmodjo, also struck a conciliatory tone in what appeared to be a bid to calm tensions with the agency.

He told reporters the government would go ahead with reforms required by the IMF – but stopped short of saying that Jakarta would implement all the 50 points in the agency’s reform package.

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