I have received many encouraging responses to my first blog. Thank you. This time, let's look at Indonesia's budget. Last year, Indonesia's budget reached the magical threshold of US$100 billion.
In terms of big newsworthy events in Asia, one of the biggest has to be the anti-government protests in Thailand. A relatively small number of protesters dramatically caused the cancellation of an ASEAN+3 meeting held in Pattaya this past weekend where 10 regional heads of state were evacuated. The World Bank President, as well as the head of the IMF and UN, were turned around at the airport in Bangkok. Although the protests around the country have effectively ended after martial law was declared and two protesters died, the damage of this may be longer-lasting. Although a discussion of the politics would be interesting, let's concentrate on the finance-related issues.
|Women entrepreneurs in Nias, Indonesia, describe how they manage community loans and expand business ventures.|
In our visit to Hiliweto village of Gido district of Nias, the mission team visited the home of one of the women's group leaders to chat with informal women entrepreneurs on how they manage their community loans and expand their business ventures. At first, the group was reluctant to even answer a question, but Joachim broke the ice by agreeing to have the women ask about him – for example, where he comes from, married or not, children, etc. As the discussion went into a more relaxed mode, we asked what specific program benefits them the most. They all hailed microfinancing. Getting small loans is a common problem in Indonesia because credit is difficult to obtain from banks without having any collateral as a guarantee.
You may want to grab your surfboard to be prepared even though this wave may not yet be visible now. There is little (public) focus on this question in Asia at the moment and I suspect that the reason is simple – over the past ten years we have witnessed a relatively long period of stability and rapid economic growth across Asia. Such a situation can too easily breed complacency and high levels of risk-taking by banks,