Rendi A. Witular, The Jakarta Post, New York
Thu, October 01 2015, 9:14 AM
Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Tuesday met both Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Dutch Queen Maxima to explore ways to enhance economic relations. The meetings were held separately on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
After a meeting with Bettel, Kalla said that Indonesia had informed Luxembourg that it had waived visas for its citizens to visit the archipelago and would explore cooperation in the satellite business as Luxembourg had an upper-hand in the business.
“Luxembourg is very strong in its financial institutions and satellite management. They have around 80 satellite slots that we can actually explore to use as we now only have four satellites in operation,” said Kalla.
Kalla also hoped for Luxembourg’s assistance to help Indonesia’s bid for visa-free reciprocity from the Schengen area comprising 26 European countries.
Indonesia has also requested support from Luxembourg for its bid in 2019 to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
After the meeting, Kalla also met Queen Maxima in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA).
She is a leading global champion and spokesperson for the essential role of financial services in alleviating poverty, fostering equitable economic growth, and furthering diverse development goals including environmental sustainability, food security, clean water, good health and universal education.
“She wants to ensure that Indonesia has all the attention on financial inclusions for small and medium businesses,” said Kalla.
“I told her that Indonesia is already serious in carrying out such policies, as is evident in our management of KUR [subsidized-micro loans],” he said.
The KUR is a government-backed program that aims to disburse micro loans to owners of small businesses across the country at lower interest rates than most micro loans, made possible by an insurance plan provided by the government through state credit insurance firms Perum Jamkrindo and Askrindo.
The program was initially launched in 2007 during former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s term and involved several lenders, including state, private and regional development banks (BPDs).
This year’s program was put on hold in January because of the increasing number of bad loans that were recorded by several participating lenders in 2014.