DJ Indonesia VP: Economy Could Grow 8%-9% Over Next 3 Years

Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla, a contender in this year's
presidential election, said Monday that the country's economy could grow by
8% to 9% within the next three years if planned infrastructure programs
progress on schedule. 

The government aims to build hundreds of kilometers of toll roads along with
10,000 megawatts of extra electricity-generating capacity in the next
several years. However, it has had trouble securing funding from
private-sector partners to build the projects. 

Kalla was outlining his economic platform at a summit organized by the
Indonesian Chamber of Commerce. 

The government's current economic growth forecast for 2009 is 4%-4.5%,
compared with 6.1% in 2008. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati had said
the country's growth could rebound to 5% to 6% in 2010. 

If elected as president, Kalla said he would work to "develop an
independent, nationalist economy" that will be less dependent on foreign
loans and imports of staples, such as rice. He said 40% of the state budget
last year had gone toward repayments on external debt and costly subsidies
on fuel and electricity prices. 

Kalla said next year, the government's kerosene-to-LPG conversion program
for household energy supplies should "sharply" reduce fuel subsidies in the
state budget. 

Over the weekend, Kalla formalized a coalition between his Golkar party, the
former political vehicle of longtime dictator Suharto, and the People's
Conscience Party, or Hanura, headed by former army general Wiranto, who uses
a single name. 

Golkar provided much of the political support for the current government
headed by president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. However, in the parliamentary
election held last month, its vote tally slipped by around a third to less
than 15%. Yudhoyono's Democrat Party garnered almost 21% of votes, three
times its tally in the previous election in 2004. 

Hanura received around 5% of the popular vote in April. 

The first round of voting for the presidential election will be held July 8,
with a second round of voting possible in September if no one candidate
receives more than 50% of votes in the first round. 

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