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Australian assistance for Indonesia

I am pleased to announce a new package of assistance to help Indonesia address the impact of the current financial crisis, particularly its serious impact on the country's poor.

These measures include placement of Australian expert advisers in the Indonesian National Development Planning Board (BAPPENAS) to help develop new employment sector strategies and approaches to strengthening social services. They will also assist in designing a regional development strategy for the province of Irian Jaya.

Australia will also work with Indonesian agencies to set up a longer-term Advisory Services Facility. This will result in Australian experts assisting BAPPENAS and other agencies to develop economic and social reform programs, including assistance to strengthen key elements of economic governance, such as the banking and financial system.

Australian technical assistance will also extend to including up to three Australian consultants in the World Bank's imminent Public Expenditure Review for Indonesia.

Indonesia is a close friend and neighbour. It is a friend in need and this package continues a long Australian record of extending a helping hand when our neighbour experiences hardship. The importance that Australia attaches to our relationship with Indonesia was clearly demonstrated with our recent commitment of $US1 billion as a part of the current IMF rescue program.

In relation to Indonesia's prolonged drought, I am pleased to announce a further Australian contribution of $2 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross appeal to help alleviate the effects of the drought in Irian Jaya.

This contribution is in addition to the $1.3 million Australia provided in late 1997 for drought relief in Irian Jaya. The drought in Irian Jaya is particularly severe and is seriously threatening many local communities.

I have also indicated Australia's willingness to assist the Government of Indonesia to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the short and long term impact of the prolonged drought in the other provinces of Indonesia.


Media contacts:

John Milne, Australian Embassy, Jakarta; 62 21 522 7091; 0811 194 144

Greg Hunt, Minister's Office, Canberra, 0411 414 691

Deborah Nesbitt, AusAID, Canberra, 02 6206 4966; 0417 683 767