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Indonesia: Problems, progress and promise

After years of unfulfilled promise, there is the whiff of optimism in Indonesia as government tackles tangled economic and political challenges. Euromoney spoke to Indonesia’s finance minister, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, about problems, progress and promise. Chris Leahy reports.

Indonesia’s finance minister, Sri Mulyani Indrawati
“The current situation has a combination of hope and challenges, and they need to be managed carefully”

AT THE POLITICALLY tender age of 42, Dr Sri Mulyani Indrawati bears a heavy burden on her slight frame. At the fiscal helm of a developing nation of 200 million people in the midst of the greatest political and legal reform since independence, Mulyani appears to carry her office with an equanimity that belies the scale of the challenges. The list of issues is long. From demographic imbalances and straitened fiscal circumstances to the threats of globalization and regional economic competition, Indonesia’s government faces decisions that will likely shape the economic fortunes of the country for generations.

“The current situation [in Indonesia] has a combination of hope and challenges,” says Mulyani, “and they need to be managed carefully.”

Indonesia struggled more than its neighbours to recover from the financial crisis of the late 1990s, which toppled president Suharto and introduced democracy. Although the country has benefited from cyclical improvements in the regional and global economies, fundamental structural reform is still needed to secure the long-term sustainable growth that the country needs, as Mulyani explains.

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