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FNPBI demonstrates against neoliberal economic policies

Kompas Cyber Media - September 11, 2005

Ant/Edj, Jakarta – The Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI) believes that the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla (SBY-Kalla) are pursuing economic polices that support foreign interests and which fail to side with the interests of workers.

Around 150 demonstrators from FNPBI held a demonstration in front of the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Jakarta on Sunday September 11, declared their opposition to the policy of maintaining cheap wages and the removal of subsidies for the poor including cuts to fuel subsidies. Demonstrators also brought banners to the action with messages demanding the government be replaced.

“The policies of the SBY-Kalla regime increasingly indicate their real intention of subjugating of the economy to what is referred to by the term economic neoliberalism. They make way to the advanced countries in order to [allow them to] deepen their control of the Indonesian market”, said FNPBI secretary Budi Wardoyo.

According to Wardoyo, cheap wages, which at this time still represent one of the government’s principle policies to attract foreign investors, do not side with the interests of workers. “This policy in its reality does not increase job opportunities or create prosperity but is precisely what is destroying the economic livelihood of the poor”, he said.

Furthermore said Wardoyo, the job market does not affect foreign investors who invest their capital on the stock market so it is increasingly clear that the policy of maintaining cheap wages to develop the real sectors of the economy instead weakens the public’s purchasing power. “We were also critical when the government opened the gates to the import of all types of commodities without incurring high import taxes”, he said.

FNPBI also took the opportunity to propose a number of alternatives in order to solve these issues including the rescheduling of foreign debt so that the government does not need to cut fuel subsidies, the abolition of financial liberalisation which in the short term means issuing policies to centralise foreign reserves or US dollars earned from exports, strengthening domestic industries and prohibiting all speculative activities on commodities.

“Here we [want to] interline that increasing workers’ wages is not just for the sake of it but must be aimed at increasing the public’s purchasing power in relation to national industries”, he said.

[Translated by James Balowski.]
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