President Vows 7% Growth

JAKARTA ~ President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged this week to return the country to strong growth of seven percent by 2014 if he is re-elected in July.

The president, known simply as SBY, said domestic demand would fuel a recovery next year, as he addressed business leaders ahead of the July 8 polls.

“We have the objective within the next five years that, with the right growth sources and the best policies, economic growth can reach seven percent,” Yudhoyono said on Wednesday.

“I prefer inclusive growth, sustainable growth and protection for the citizens rather than economic growth levels that won’t be sustainable,” he added.

The government has embarked on a US$7.1-billion stimulus spending plan but Yudhoyono said fiscal policy had to be balanced with a “social safety net” to ensure stable rather than simply high economic growth.

His government would improve resource management in a country which is home to some of the world’s largest reserves of minerals, coal, oil and gas.

“We have abundant resources, but they have not been managed efficiently,” he said.

Indonesia became a net oil importer several years ago due to a lack of investment in new fields, while regulatory problems have stymied investment in the mining sector.

Boediono, an economist with no experience in politics, separately promised to fight corruption and strengthen the domestic market if elected as vice president.

“The government’s role in driving the economy is highly necessary, primarily to boost the domestic market as Indonesia’s main strengths are domestic,” Boediono told political activists.

Opinion polls put Yudhoyono well ahead of his main rivals, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri and outgoing Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

His Democratic Party almost tripled its seats in parliament in April general elections, winning more than 20 percent of the vote compared to around 14 percent for the two closest parties.

Kalla predicted earlier this week that he could achieve eight percent growth if he was elected.

Southeast Asia’s biggest economy is forecast to expand at about four percent this year compared to more than six percent last year.

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