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On Indonesia IMF Cites Account Deficit and Low Female Labor Participation Not West Papua

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT NYP

NEW YORK CITY, May 17 –When Indonesia on May 1 held a press conference about its upcoming month as president of UN Security Council, Inner City Press which has covered the Council and its failures for a decade was banned from entering the UN for the 301st day by Antonio Guterres. Indonesia never bothered to inform Inner City Press about a May 13 UNSC session on Cameroon, one of the countries for reporting on the UN's failure on which Guterres has banned Inner City Press, 317 days and counting.

 Now on May 17 the International Monetary Fund which Inner City Press also covers as an accredited reporter (while the UN bans it) has put out this on Indonesia, without a word for example about the abuse of West Papua: "An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Mr. Luis E. Breuer visited Indonesia from May 2 to 14, 2019, to conduct the discussions for the 2019 Article IV Consultation. At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Breuer issued the following statement... 'The current account deficit widened to 3 percent of GDP in 2018, mainly due to higher infrastructure-related imports and lower commodity exports. In addition, tighter global financial conditions led to a sharp decline in net portfolio flows, which combined with lower foreign direct investment flows, resulted in a deficit of the balance of payments. The current account deficit is projected to narrow gradually in 2019 and over the medium term, and the overall balance of payment to turn positive.  “Risks to the outlook are tilted to the downside and mainly stem from external sources, including rising trade tensions, sharp tightening of global financial conditions, weaker-than-expected growth in China, and large swings in commodity prices. On the upside, post-electoral renewed reforms efforts by the government would boost confidence, investment, and growth.  “The authorities are rightly focused on protecting stability with macroeconomic policies and boosting inclusive growth through structural reforms. This policy strategy remains appropriate in light of the uncertainties affecting the world economy. In the near term, the authorities should emphasize maintaining policy flexibility, protecting buffers, and addressing current economic vulnerabilities with renewed efforts.  “Given low inflation and inflation expectations, there is room to cautiously loosen the monetary policy stance by gradually unwinding interest rate hikes adopted in response to the 2018 emerging market selloff, as external conditions allow. The authorities should continue to let the exchange rate move freely in line with market forces, with foreign exchange intervention limited to addressing disorderly market conditions. This would protect foreign exchange reserves to face possible future shocks and allow the current account deficit to adjust. As Bank Indonesia adjusted its policies to address the challenges of 2018, a broader dissemination of the central bank’s policy framework, including its use of policy instruments, will contribute to the effectiveness of policies.  “A neutral fiscal stance is warranted for 2019 and 2020. While Indonesia has some fiscal space, a largely unchanged fiscal deficit of 1.8 percent of GDP in 2019 and 2020 would strike a balance between supporting growth and stability, in the context of uncertain external financing conditions. As this stance would maintain debt sustainability, fiscal policy should focus on creating additional space through tax reform and improving the composition and efficiency of public spending. Revenue mobilization through the modernization of the tax system and tax administration is essential to finance government priorities in the areas of education, including vocational training, health, infrastructure and social safety nets, and could contribute to significant economy-wide productivity gains and reduce inequality.  “The banking system remains well capitalized and highly profitable, and system-wide liquidity is ample. The authorities continued to take actions in line with the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) recommendations, although further efforts are needed to strengthen financial oversight and crisis management. Financial deepening and inclusion would help mobilize domestic resources to finance the economy and lessen the reliance on volatile external financing.  “Building on past efforts to improve infrastructure, streamline regulations and reform the education and health sectors—which have contributed to improvements in the economic environment—the authorities should sustain these efforts, and even expand them, to address continued structural bottlenecks and impediments to higher growth. The latter include still burdensome regulations, especially at the subnational government level, restrictions to foreign direct investment that hamper economic diversification, the strong presence of SOEs that may limit competition and innovation in some sectors, rigid labor markets, and low female labor participation.”  The team exchanged views with officials in the government, Bank Indonesia, Financial Services Authority (OJK), other public agencies and representatives of the private sector. The team wishes to express its gratitude to the authorities and counterparts for their warm hospitality and constructive discussions." We'll have more on this, and on Indonesia's still entirely unresponsive UNSC presidency and two year elected membership. They must do better.

Inside the UN on May 1, the first question to Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani was handed to one who has falsely puffed up Guterres has having raised China's abuse of the Uighurs to President Xi (Guterres did not raise it to Xi). A later question went to an insider who said, I am going to ask the same question as everyone else.

   There was almost nothing about anything in Africa, over 60% of the UN Security Council's agenda, much less on Cameroon or Burundi or Uganda, whose foreign minister was bribed by the same CEFC China Energy which tried to buy the Partex oil company of Gulbenkian Foundation which has paid Guterres. We'll have more on this - and on UNSC meetings and negotiations, if only from the gate outside.

On May 2 there is Cyprus, a long time UN and Guterres failure, then a Council retreat May 2-3. On May 10 there is Libya, and on May 11 Yemen, also both UN failures. On the 22nd, Somalia, where Guterres undercut his own envoy Nicholas Haysom calling him "impolite" for having signed a letter of human rights questions to the government in Mogadishu. (On May 9 there will be an Arria formula meeting on Palestine, although it is not listed on the online Program of Work.)

  And on May 23, what else, SG Antonio Guterres' dinner. The UNSC Presidency should make information available to those who cover and also to those who are impacted by the Council. Watch this site.

Inner City Press covered the UN Security Council for ten years, covered trips to Sudan, DRC, Cote d'Ivoire and most recently Haiti - until Guterres amid questions about his links to UN bribery had it thrown out. We'll have more, much more, on this - and on Cameroon: after Paul Biya who has ruled Cameroon for 36 years on January 28 had his opponent Maurice Kamto arrested, Inner City Press again asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his spokesmen for their comment and action, if any. This came after Guterres had Inner City Press roughed up on 3 July 2018 after it interviewed Biya's Ambassador about the two men's Budget Committee deals and banned from the UN since - Guterres even tried to get Inner City Press banned from the Park East Synagogue, here, which was denied / dodged by his spokesman Stephane Dujarric. On March 1 after the Nigerian federal high court sitting in Abuja declared illegal and unconstitutional the deportation of Ayuk Tabe and 46 others from Nigeria to Cameroon in January 2018, Dujarric who refuses questions from Inner City Press he has banned took a fake question from one of his favorites, who said "Anglophones did some shooting" - and said NOTHING about the new ruling. The refoulement took place with Guterres' Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed there, and joining in censorship since. We'll have more on this, and this:  Azanwuli Chikere, a member of the panel which heard the case, said the Nigeria federal government lacks the power to deport refugees and asylum seekers from Nigeria. Ruling on an application filed by Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, the court awarded N5 million damages to each of the applicant and also ordered the government to ensure the Cameroonians are brought back to Nigeria.  Among those deported were Julius Tabe, Nfor Nfor, Fidelis Che, Henry Kimeng, Awasum, Cornelius Kwanga, Tassang Wilfred, Eyambe Elias, Ojong Okongho and Nalowa Bih. Amid Guterres' shameful silence, in Cameroon opposition leader Maurice Kamto on February 27 argued he cannot be tried in a military court - the UN seems fine with this - while supporters were held over in Kondengui prison until at least March 19. Meanwhile Guterres' UN system and affiliates, in a system that like a fish rots from the head, lavish praise and money on Paul Biya as he burns villages and takes untold money to his hotel in Geneva. It has gone beyond the money the Secretariat is raising for Biya - now the World Bank is shoveling in money for a dubious dam project: "The Cameroonian President authorized last February 22 the economy minister, Alamine Ousmane Mey, to sign a loan agreement with World Bank’s subsidiary, the International Development Association (IDA), for an amount of €24.5 million, or XAF16.3 billion." How much will go for Biya's hotel bills in Geneva, paid in cash? The UN World Health Program's Matshidiso Moeti praised Biya on, if it can be believed, health while Biya is in fact killing people. Shesaid she "was touched when the Minister of State 'told me that when we train health personnel we need to tell them not only to be efficient and knowledgeable but also to treat members of the public with kindness and compassion.'" Paul Biya and compassion? That's like Antonio Guterres false claim to care about and comply with freedom of the press. Doctor, heal thyself.

On February 25 in Geneva, amid a Guterres junket full of false claims of his commitment to freedom of the press and to human rights, Biya's Foreign Minister Lejeune Mbella Mbella in his speech to the UN Human Rights Council bragged of being elected to this Council, amid his government's slaughter in October 2018, and thanks Antonio Guterres. He called the opposition "armed terrorist groups" and did not mention the imprisonment and possible death penalty against for example Maurice Kamto, nor the military trial against Ayuk Tabe and those illegally refouled from Nigeria. Nor does Guterres speak about those abductions, which took place while his deputy Amina J. Mohammed was in Abuja. This is the travesty that Guterres is turning the UN system into. In Cameroon, the ten standing "trial" before the Yaounde Military tribunal have been told despite showing refugee and asylum seeker status that they cannot appeal. Their lawyers walked out, and silence from the UN of Antonio Guterres who not only does not allow appeals but provides for no hearing before having a journalists who questions him about Cameroon roughed up and banned, now for 232 days. In Cameroon, Barrister Ndong Christopher proferred two groups of documents ; one from recognizing Shufai Blaise Berinyuy, Nfor Ngala Nfor, Tassange Wilfred and Eyambe Elias as refugees.  The other set of documents established Julius Ayuk Tabe, Kwanga Cornelius, Ogork Egbe, Nde Fidelis, Kimeng Henry and Awasum Augustine as asylum seekers. Their lawyers state they will be filing an appeal at the Mfoundi High Court.  And the UN is silent; Guterres took Biya's golden statue and his ambassador Tommo Monthe's favors in the UN Budget Committee, had Inner City Press roughed up as it reported on it and banned since. This race to the bottom by Paul Biya has been in parallel with Guterres' six calls to Biya, which Dujarric refuses to answer questions about.  But Guterres and Dujarric have offered no answer to this Inner City Press question: "what is the SG's comment and follow up action, if any, on that Kamto is currently held at the building of the Groupement spécial d’opérations in Yaoundé. According to his lawyers, Kamto could be charged with: insurrection, hostility against the homeland, criminal association, threats to public order, rebellion, group rebellion, and inciting insurrection,and that there are currently up to 200 people, of whom the majority are MRC supporters, in detention following protests on January 26, and, again, on the arrest and detention of journalists Théodore Tchopa and David Eyengue Nzima merely for covering the opposition gathering in Douala. Again, what are the read-outs of his six conversations with Paul Biya and most recently of Francois Fall's visit there?" No answer. An UNacceptable fraud. After Guterres bragged again, this time in French, about his talks with Biya's government, Cameroon forces burned down the hospital in Kumba in the Anglophone Southwest Region. The UN usually calls attacks on medical facilities a war crime but as we have seen, Biya's Cameroon is a special case for Guterres, since it chaired the UN Budget Committee. But Guterres has nothing to say about Biya's burning of a hospital. Before 9 am on Febuary 11, Inner City Press in writing asked Guterres, Amina J. Mohammed, Alison Smale, Farhan Haq and "Spokesman" Stephane Dujarric: "February 11-1: On Cameroon, what is the SG's comment and action on the deadly burning down of the hospital in Kumba in the Anglophone Southwest Region, and on the imprisonment of nurse Njongwan Emeline for "unauthorized" filming the authorities mass arrests in Buea? In this context, please immediately specify the SG's statement on "dialogue avec le Premier Ministre [du Cameroun] et il nous a promis que tout ce fait pour créer des conditions de respect des droits de l’homme et de dialogue pour que la situation puisse se normaliser"?" Weeks later, nothing. More here.


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