First off, we’ve got some pictures of our latest culinary adventures, so check them out if you are interested. Here’s some central Javanese beef soup and here’s some fried tempe. Oh, and here’s a picture of some friends.
I (jm) was looking at the Jakarta Post online today and found some interesting articles and statistics in the news. Here are some of the highlights:
The Australian Foreign Minister is trying to encourage the US and Indonesia to get along and be friends. Bush already met the new president, SBY, in Chile a few weeks ago, and the Australian dude keeps saying that he thinks these two leaders can work together. I hope he’s right.
The latest on Indonesian corruption: aside from the president starting a new crusade to end corruption and a new report saying that the governing bodies are the most corrupt institutions in the country (using a “corruption scale” of 1 to 5, no joke), there was an interesting tidbit involving Britain. It seems that in the mid-90’s a British tank-making company paid Soeharto’s daughter $31.9 million so she could “help” them secure a $309 million contract with the Indonesian army. The company is now trying desperately to keep this ridiculous bribe under wraps, especially considering that despite promises to the contrary the tanks were used for internal repression against movements in Aceh and East Timor.
Of the approximately 235 million Indonesians, 40 million are either unemployed or earn less than $2/day. And welfare, unemployment benefits and health insurance don’t exist. Yikes.
Of all Indonesians, it is estimated that only 4% have access to computers. Furthermore, only 27% of small and medium enterprises have access to computers. That would be like 3/4 of American small/medium businesses not being able to accept credit cards, order supplies online, keep electronic inventory, etc.
The economy here is expected to grow by 5.5% this coming year which is good. However, inflation and interest rates are also going up. And then there are the oil problems. This year, for the first time Indonesia has become a net oil importer of oil as their own sources decrease (at a rate of 6% per year). Because oil prices worldwide are so high right now, their budget deficit here is expected to rise 45% just because of the fuel subsidy. The government pays out huge sums in order to subsidize gas prices so people can afford it—- they expected to need Rp. 14.5 trillion for this program this year but instead will need Rp. 59.2 trillion. Ouch. So remember as you constantly shell out twenties for less than a full tank of gas, there are other places in the world which are having huge difficulties because of the price hike. (This is not to say that paying so much at the gas station is fun— I remember in Ohio when I was in college and gas was 88 cents a gallon for a while. Ahh, the good old days!)