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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs             23  July 2011

Yudhoyono has big plans for Indonesia

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Indonesia has immense potential and ambitions as an emerging-market superstar, but is stymied by basic infrastructural potholes. But Indonesia plans to change all that in the next five years.

The government intends to step up the building of modern infrastructure, pouring billions of dollars into new roads, ports and electricity networks as part of a push to eradicate the main bottlenecks that stand in the way of the country's economic growth.

A long-awaited law allowing the government to acquire land for public use more easily will be passed this year, according to Indonesian President Susilo Bamband Yudhoyono.

But the Indonesian leader also tempered his optimism about the development plans with an acknowledgment of the many challenges Indonesia faces, including the need to get local politicians on board and to put in place a clear legal framework and "responsive bureaucracy".

Yudhoyono's plans come on the heels of an ambitious economic master plan that he laid out in May, aimed at turning Indonesia into one of the world's top 10 economies by 2025.

The master plan is part of his vision of "strong, balanced and sustainable growth", under which the government wants to draw more investments and promote exports, so that the country can generate revenue to fund more programs for the poor and help small businesses grow with micro-credit and other schemes.

A key plank is to attract US$468 billionin investments over the next 14 years, including infrastructure.

There is an added measure of urgency for the Indonesian leader to get things going in the next few years. Now midway through his second term, the 61-year-old is constitutionally barred from running again and must step down by 2014.

While Yudhoyono has been largely popular since he came to power in 2004, he has taken some heat from critics who say he is too slow - or is unwilling to expend political capital - in pushing through difficult reforms.

To be sure, Indonesia under his charge survived the 2008 recession well, and today has a seat at the table occupied by the world's most influential powers, as a Group of 20 member. Last year, it recorded a respectable 6.1 per cent growth and is expected to do slightly better at 6.5 per cent this year.

But South-east Asia's largest economy - and the world's 17th-largest - continues to suffer from crippling infrastructure gaps, stultifying bureaucratic delays and corruption.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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