Indonesia asks Hashimoto to send economic advisers

Sent by INDO-CHAOS's News-Hunter: "T.O" from Japan

Indonesian Vice President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie asked Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto Thursday to send macroeconomic advisers to the economically battered country to help formulate financial and fiscal policy.

In talks at the prime minister's official residence, Habibie also requested Japan lobby the International Monetary Fund and finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of Seven nations for a meeting to help small and medium-sized Indonesian companies. The businesses were suffering from high inflation and interest rates caused by the economic hardships, he said.

Habibie said it would be difficult for his country to implement the IMF's 50-point economic restructuring plan for the country. Implementation of the plan is tied to the IMF's planned 43 billion dollars bailout of the economy. The organization, concerned about Suharto's commitment to reform, decided on March 6 to delay disbursement of 3 billion dollars in funds originally scheduled to be released in mid-March.

"We have the intention of implementing all (the reforms), but some of them may violate the Constitution," Habibie said.

Hashimoto said he had confidence Indonesia would follow through with the reforms after meeting with Indonesian President Suharto in Jakarta on Sunday.

"President Suharto told me that he would keep his promise (to the IMF) at any cost during our recent talks."

"We welcome the fact that Indonesia is negotiating flexibly with the IMF and we expect the negotiations will be settled soon," Hashimoto said.

Habibie also said his country was considering other financial measures, including asking companies to consider a "moratorium for debts in the private sector."

Hashimoto answered: "Concerned people in the private sector and major countries are vigorously discussing the issue. I hope it will bring results as soon as possible."

Meanwhile, a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official said Habibie had submitted a list of goods, such as rice, that the government could donate to Indonesia. Ministries and aid agencies were studying the requests, he said.