World Bulletin / News Desk
Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Thursday corruption is on the rise, even in parliament, in his most explicit comments yet on a scourge that he warned threatened economic growth in Southeast Asia's largest economy.
Corruption is widely seen as holding back the economy and Yudhoyono has been criticized for letting the fight against it slow as he comes towards the end of his second five-year term.
A series of corruption scandals have rocked the president's Democrat Party, weakening it in advance of elections in 2014 when Yudhoyono will step down.
"The drum of war on corruption should not dissipate. Corruption should be completely eradicated," Yudhoyono said in a speech to parliament ahead of the country's Independence Day anniversary.
"I have to admit there are still many perpetrators of corruption even in the government, parliament, regional representatives and among law enforcers," Yudhoyono said.
There are few estimates of how much corruption costs Indonesia but watchdog groups say it is prevalent in the civil service, police and judicial system and that it adds to business costs in part by weakening confidence in the rule of law.
Despite rampant graft, resource-rich Indonesia has become a favorite of emerging market investors because of its large domestic market as the world's fourth most populous country, rising middle class, relatively stable fiscal framework and low levels of public debt.
Economic growth picked up to a stronger-than-expected 6.4 percent last quarter, defying a global downturn because of domestic consumption and investment.
Yudhoyono's wide-ranging speech ahead of Independence Day was the latest in a series to touch on corruption.
He said cooperation between the anti-graft body the KPK, the Supreme Court, police and the Attorney General's office was paramount in fighting corruption.
Yudhoyono said the government must provide a safe legal environment for investors if it is to promote economic growth, as well as removing hurdles to investment and promoting infrastructure growth.
One analyst said he was skeptical that the speech signaled any real stiffening of government resolve on corruption.
"This speech is normative because if you say such things you have to show concrete examples. The president mentions extraordinary action to face corruption but there is no realization on the ground," said Donal Fariz of Indonesia Corruption Watch, a graft watchdog.
Europe's economic crisis also provided a threat to growth in Indonesia, and that the government needed to cautiously give a fiscal stimulus, though he did not give any details, Yudhoyono said.
Economists say the government needs to spend more to overhaul infrastructure to drive long-term growth, though central government spending usually falls below target because of corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency.
The euro reached $1.1388 Wednesday, the highest level since a year earlier.
The IMF warned that "significant policy uncertainties imply larger-than-usual" risks to the US outlook on either side, since spending cuts could lower growth, while tax cuts could provide stimulus and expand the economy.
Now the VNO-NCW is calling for the Dutch parliament to reverse a 2015 decision to introduce a cap of 20 percent of annual pay on the bonuses which can be paid out to top managers in the banking industry.
The state-owned energy trading firm Lietuvos Duju Tiekimas said it signed the deal with the Texas company Cheniere Energy.
Adding to the upward pressure for oil is the crisis in the Middle East, where a Saudi-led blockade of Qatar has fuelled concerns of possible conflict.
Bourses in both Paris and Frankfurt dipped after a report from data monitoring company IHS Markit showed Eurozone private sector business activity slowed sharply in June while staying in expansion mode.
Analysts said that while the downturn in the headline readings was disappointing, the economy continued to put in a strong performance.
Crude prices stabilised after diving more than two percent on Tuesday on increasing fears of a global supply glut, as continued production in the US and elsewhere offsets an OPEC output cut deal.
Move estimated to save company $1B in investment costs
However, most other regional markets struggled after Monday's healthy gains, despite being given a positive lead from Wall Street where the Dow and S&P 500 closed at fresh record highs.
The purchase in one fell swoop gives Amazon, which until now has operated almost entirely on the internet, a big presence in the brick-and-mortar world on Main Street, with more than 450 stores in the US, Canada and Britain.
"The Bank of Russia Board of Directors decided to cut the key rate to 9.00 percent per annum," the bank said in a statement. The cut follows a half-point decrease in late April.