Indonesia still languishes

EVEN without the controversy in East Timor, Indonesia is unlikely to enjoy anything more than a slow economic growth rate for some time.

So says Terry McGee, who spent some time working with Indonesia’s Central Planning Agency in 1998.

Professor McGee said the Asian financial crisis hit Indonesia particularly hard and had some interesting effects on the country’s economy.

“Prior to the Asian crisis the number of people in Indonesia’s workforce employed in the agriculture sector was falling,” he said.

“There was a boost not only in rural but also urban agriculture in the first eight months after the crisis.

“There were even invasions of some of Indonesia’s golf courses to turn them to land for raising fast growing crops such as tapioca.

“There was an increase in the agriculture sector of one million people.”

However, some Indonesian experts argue the jump in people turning to agriculture could be due to the growth in demand for certain agricultural products such as palm oil.

Professor McGee said there had also been growth in the trade or retail sector of the Indonesian economy.

He said more women were going into the workforce.

“Women were the prime movers in the Indonesian labour market,” Professor McGee said.

“More women were going into the workforce to gain extra income in a time when there was economic decline and high inflation.”

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