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Transcript of a Press Conference by Stanley Fischer|
Okura Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
April 8, 1998
Mr. Saito: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming to this press conference of Mr. Fischer, the First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. Mr. Fischer will make very brief introductory remarks and then he will receive questions. As usual in these meetings, when you make questions, please state your organization and your name. I think we can start.
Mr. Fischer: Thanks very much, Kunio, and thank you for coming. This press conference is going to be a bit of a struggle, I'm sure, since you're going to want to know all about Indonesia, and I want to talk also about other things. Just to clarify where we think we stand on Indonesia, there is probably going to be a press conference in Jakarta later today by the Indonesian government to discuss the economic program and its details. We're not quite sure whether that will take place. We'll find out in due course. Could be in a few hours, could be delayed until tomorrow. Negotiations are in any case very near an end on this revision of the letter of intent, to enable the completion of the first review of the Indonesian program. We can talk about that in some detail later, but I don't want to and will not be able to go into a lot of details on what is in the Indonesian program. The Indonesian government will reveal that and, in due course, the letter of intent, and the staff appraisal will be discussed by the Board of the IMF. I am in Tokyo to take part in a symposium, at which I made a presentation a few minutes ago. I really wanted to talk in Tokyo about the regional crisis, about how the IMF sees it, as well as about the economic policy choices that now confront Japan.
On the regional crisis, Indonesia aside, the initial financial crisis has probably been contained. You can never tell at this stage of a crisis, for sure, but there are encouraging signs, particularly in Thailand and Korea, that the financial part, the worst of the financial part of this crisis, is over. But that is not to say that the crisis is over because there is a lot of hard work to be done on the real side of the economy, completing the financial sector and the corporate sector restructurings. There will be slow to negative growth in some countries for most of the rest of this year and that will be difficult for the countries involved. But it's clear that the early stages are most likely over.
There could be adverse shocks to these countries that could set the recovery back, and among those shocks is the possibility of a decline in the Japanese economy. It is obvious, given the recent tankan survey, that Japan faces critical policy choices in the next few days. The government has said it is addressing them, will address them, there are encouraging statements coming out about the size of the supplementary fiscal package that might be put together. That would be a very important development in mitigating and possibly reversing the decline in output that now looks likely for 1998 unless measures are taken, and for increasing the likely-to-be anemic growth of 1999, unless measures are taken.
The fiscal measures are very important, but more important even is the financial sector restructuring. There is a lot that needs to be done. It should be done quickly. One of the many lessons of the Asian crisis is that, if you don't deal with financial sector problems, they don't go away, they get worse, and it is also encouraging that this very large sum of money has been announced as available for financial sector restructuring. Now the actual restructuring strategy has to go in place, has to be put in place. And that would involve, among the essential elements, aggressive efforts to dispose of problem loans. The carrying of those loans on the books of banks for six or seven years, rather than dealing with them, has contributed to the prolongation of this period of slow growth. They have to be dealt with. The property market has to reach bottom, and signs of recovery have to be in place in the asset markets before this prolonged slow growth--it's not quite a recession, it's not anything that looks terrible but it does sap the strength of the economy over a period of years--before that can be ended, the financial sector has to be straightened out. It means disposing of problem loans. It requires the linking of the injection of public funds to the restructuring plans for banks that will remain open. They should also be required to raise funds from the market, there should be more transparency in the financial system, international disclosure standards should be accepted, adopted, and the new supervisory authority needs resources and needs the authority to require these measures to be taken.
This is not a case where people are uncertain what needs to be done; it's a case of summoning up the will to do it, difficult as it may be. And it is encouraging that the financial sector plan has been discussed and essential elements put in place, that the fiscal expansion has been discussed and is being actively discussed, and now we can hope that actions will be taken to implement those plans. Let me stop there and take questions.
Question: Do you have a copy of your remarks, to begin with? You've said an awful lot of great importance in the past few minutes, and I'm not sure that I noted absolutely all.
Mr. Fischer: I have got the presentation I made earlier this morning, which certainly has the remarks on the financial sector in more detail.
Mr. Saito: Mr. Fischer's paper is available on your way out.
Question: What you said almost sounds as though the IMF is now giving formal policy advice to Japan, almost as though Japan were on a, some sort of , if not IMF program well at least receiving formal advice from the IMF. Is this correct? Have things reached the stage now where the IMF is actually making formal policy recommendations to Japan?
Mr. Fischer: We have this Article IV surveillance process for all countries, all member countries, and we make recommendations to all countries. There's nothing special in that. There is no formal program with Japan, nor is it very likely that there will be one. But we are in a continuous policy dialogue with all our members and, at a time like this, certainly so with Japan. Of course, Japan is not short of advice from others, but we are certainly part of it, and it's a legitimate part of the way the IMF is required to exercise its surveillance over the international system.
Question: Just to follow up very briefly on that. The situation has been this way for a considerable time, as you said. Banks have had bad loans on their books for a long time. You obviously feel that conditions have deteriorated significantly in order for you to make these rather strong comments at this stage.
Mr. Fischer: The situation, the deterioration of the situation is evident from the fact that negative growth is now a prospect, and it's also evident from the fact that growth has been so slow for most of this decade. I don't believe there's been a significant worsening of the state of bank portfolios in the last few months. That's not the point. The point is that one can see a problem continuing and continuing unless it's dealt with, and the time to deal with it is surely at hand.
Question: Mr. Fischer, you've said correctly that Prime Minister Hashimoto has gotten a lot of advice. A lot of us are waiting for some kind of statement about a tax cut, supposedly to stimulate consumption. I wonder if you could discuss the consequences of having this tax cut without having some of the financial reforms that, as you correctly state, have been not dealt with for six or seven years.
Mr. Fischer: Either part would help, and it would certainly help to get the economy growing faster again. So, I don't anticipate that we have to choose. It's not necessary to choose. I think they'll do both, but each element by itself would be a help. The end to the long period of slow growth would require financial sector action, but the incipient decline in output could be prevented, and that's important, or could be mitigated by a large fiscal expansion, and that would be an important part of helping the financial package along. But there's really no answer that one is insufficient without the other. They're both needed, and I expect they'll both be done.
Question: I'd like to ask you a question about Indonesia. Basically two schools of thought were being raised in recent weeks, and one school was that the government there had effectively raised the specter of civil unrest without IMF funds. The other . . . which was helping drive the IMF's decisions about what to do. The other is that the IMF is fully prepared to walk away if it doesn't see the kind of changes and reforms that were supposed to be instituted. The questions for you, sir, are is the IMF prepared to walk away from Indonesia if you do not see progress, number one. And, number two, what kinds of progress are you looking for, and most specifically regarding the Suharto family and its holdings, and, number three, have you set a time line, a deadline by which you must see progress?
Mr. Fischer: We have negotiated very hard and very carefully an agreement with the government of Indonesia. It's nearly done and could be done for all I know. We're looking at last-minute elements and complications right now. We're not looking at a long time. The agreement has within it a very specific set of actions with deadlines, with agreed dates by which they will be implemented, as do all IMF programs, and some other safeguards designed to make it possible to monitor that those actions are taken as agreed, and on the schedule agreed. We see no point in talking about walking away, but it's clear that there are questions about the commitment of the Indonesian government. Those questions are important, not least because the success of the program depends on its credibility in the markets, and that credibility can only be gained as the program is implemented. It is not going to be gained on the day the program is signed. It would be good if there were some boost to the economy from the signature, but the boost is going to come almost entirely from implementation. We cannot, we are not in a position in the Fund to, violate the agreements that we make. And we would not be in a position if this program is not carried out to continue disbursements. That's what the program agreement is. It's an agreement that, if certain things are done, the Fund, which means the membership of the Fund, will provide these loans. So, it's not possible for us to go ahead no matter what, and it won't happen either.
Question: I believe one of the most difficult problems to deal with in this current situation in Indonesia is the private debt, around 75, 74-75 million U.S. dollars. So, what was suggested by the IMF regarding this? And, second question is if the revisions were done by both sides, when will be the date for the disbursement of the next installment, the next assistance from the IMF?
Mr. Fischer: Thanks. On the private debt/corporate debt issue, we met in Jakarta with the Steering Committee of Accredited Banks and with the committee which, whose name I'm not quite sure--Private External Debt Committee--anyway, it's known as the Radius Committee. We met together with them and . . . separately with the creditors. It's clear that the proposed solution is going to be of the so-called Ficorca type, the Mexican 1980s scheme. It's reasonably clear in concept, quite difficult to work out the precise parameters of that scheme. It has some important principles. The most important is that the Indonesian government will not take over commercial risk. The creditors and the debtors have to negotiate the arrangement they want to make. If an Indonesian company cannot pay, the Indonesian government is not going to pay. The people who lent to it will bear that risk, and that will be true throughout the period in which the corporate debt is dealt with. The Steering Committee will be meeting in the next few weeks to pursue the design of the program for dealing with the corporate debt, and I expect we'll see progress in setting up a framework. But once a framework is set up, then individual creditors and debtors have to meet, work out what has to be done for each case, as part of the approach to the debt problem. A bankruptcy law is going to be put in place, together with provisions for speeding up the implementation of the law. Those details will be in the program revealed by the Indonesian government. As for the date for the next disbursement, we don't know yet. The letter of intent will be made public shortly, assuming we've reached an agreement, and then there is a set of prior actions that needs to be taken, things the government has agreed to do by particular dates, that will have to be done before we can go to the Board. And precisely when we go to the Board will depend on the speed with which those things are implemented.
Question: This last week we've seen the DOW in the United States top 9,000, and yet we keep hearing about the problems because of the Asian crisis and the Asian flu and that sort of thing. You spoke a moment ago about the lack of will, I guess if you would call it, of the Japanese to solve this problem. I'm curious, is there some effect on the American stock market, on the American economy that's going to be felt if Japan does not get its economic house in order some time soon?
Mr. Fischer: You know one of the interesting things about the Japanese economic problem is that it hasn't produced a really big, a real crisis. I think that's why it's so hard to deal with. Politically it's much easier to deal with a serious, evident crisis than with a lingering malaise, and Japan growing at 1 percent, sometimes zero, sometimes 3-4 as it did in 1996, is not a huge drag on the world economy. It could do much better. It would be better if it grew faster. The weakness of the banking system is a more serious problem, particularly in this region. But we shouldn't exaggerate the impact on the world economy. It would be much better for Japan to deal with its problems, especially for its near neighbors.
Question: (interpreted) In Indonesia, is the private debt issue resolved? If not, why does the IMF agree on a program? And did the Fund compromise on conditions?.
Mr. Fischer: First, on the private debt, the key point about that is that it's private debt and the pressures to take it over by the government are very natural. Everybody, everybody except the government and the Indonesian people would love to have the Indonesian government take care of the debt. That's not their problem. The private sector lent to private firms in Indonesia. They have to solve the problem. We are not going to hold up an agreement until those things are worked out. We are not going to go ahead without a framework, and a framework should be in place as a result of negotiations between the creditors and the debtors. The Indonesian government may well provide such a framework. We're certainly going to discuss it with them, but this is not a problem for the Indonesian government to solve, although many banks who have debts from Indonesian corporations would like to have the Indonesian government solve it. They have to find a solution. They made the loans, it's their responsibility. We will go ahead when we're satisfied that a good framework has been put in place.
Secondly, on the conditions, etc. Let's just wait. The program will be published in due course and not in the far distant future you will see that all elements that were in the program signed in the letter of intent of January the 15th are covered. There are also some further elements that strengthen the program. The IMF, as an organization that actually has to solve problems, changes its policies when circumstances change. The exchange rate is much weaker than we expected it to be. There are therefore adjustments in the macroeconomic framework on that basis on the agreed size of the budget deficit, which reflects the need to subsidize foodstuffs, which reflects the need to worry about the social implications of the current economic situation as we do. So the macro framework has changed. But that happens everywhere. You've seen it happen in Thailand and Korea, too. And for the other details, they'll be published soon, and, as I said, there'll be some new elements as well as modifications of some old elements. One of the things that we ought to bear in mind is that this program, both in early November and on January 15, was a program accepted by the Indonesian government and signed in one case by the President. It may be assumed that whatever the agreement was, it was supported by the Indonesian government at the time.
Question: Mr. Fischer, I would like to ask you two things. You said that Korea escaped from the critical crisis but first, what do you think of the Korean present economic situation? Secondly, what do you think that Korea has to do from now on?
Mr. Fischer: Thanks. The Korean government after it changed has been confronting the economic situation very seriously and very realistically and very rapidly. So the recovery in the financial conditions, in the won, and in the stock market that began shortly after the change of government and after the agreement with the commercial banks to roll over the debt, at least after the beginnings of that agreement were put in place, that has worked well and Korea has implemented what needed doing very well. Now, that's the first stage of the crisis. But in the program are a lot of structural measures, particularly in financial sector restructuring, where there has already been progress, and in corporate sector restructuring, which is very difficult. Debt/equity ratios have to change, there's a need for greater transparency, there's a need to change the relationship between the banks and the corporations, there's also an agreed need to proceed to improve labor relations. All those things are being put in place. The decisive stage of the Korean economic reform, as opposed to stabilization, lies ahead of the Korean people and the Korean government. Those are the challenges for this year. Whether Korea comes out with a different structure of the economy, one less vulnerable to problems of the past, will depend on the determination with which the government implements the rest of the program. So, the short answer is the financial challenge is being overcome, the restructuring challenge has still to be faced. Given the way the financial sector's problems have been addressed, the financial stabilization has been addressed, there's good reason to hope that the restructuring will be vigorously and successfully attacked.
Question: You mentioned earlier that Japan's problem is a lingering one, but I was told by a Finance Ministry official last week, and I've been told the same thing by Bank of Japan officials, that if they actually had complete a transparency system, it would be, in his words, utterly destroyed. And Standard and Poor's and Moody's are both saying that the latest figure of 76 trillion yen is still not enough. The problem really is bad and that's why they've been hiding it for so long, and that's why they're reluctant to bring it up to the surface. I'd like your view on it.
Mr.Fischer: We've encouraged transparency in all the countries we've dealt with, and that's certainly desirable here. This is a strong economy, it's a rich economy. It has ample financial reserves and resources. Economies don't get destroyed in that sense and there is no reason that I see to think that, if this economy, if this government decides to deal as strongly as it should with these problems, that some disaster will happen. On the contrary, it will lay the groundwork for restoring a growth rate closer to the growth rate of potential output, which is probably somewhere around 2.5 percent in Japan, rather than 1 to 1.5 or minus as we're likely to see if nothing is done now.
Question: A follow-up, if I may. The government has also said it will not shut down any more of the so-called 19 big financial institutions. Do you think some of them should be shut down?
Mr. Fischer: I don't have that degree of knowledge. I can't answer that question.
Question: If I could just come back to you on my previous question. Sorry, you mentioned Article IV consultations and so on. But these are normally confidential. The fact that you've gone so public this morning with your prescriptions for Japan suggests that you feel that strong external pressure now will help, rather than be counterproductive. Is that the case? That's my first question. Very briefly, on the banking system, do you feel that the size of resources, of public resources, that needs to be put into the banking system now may be significantly greater than the 30 trillion yen which we're talking about at the moment?
Mr. Fischer: It's true that the Article IV isn't made public. It's also true that with regard to major economies, they are discussed individually in the World Economic Outlook and recommendations are made in public. As to the impact of external advice, it's very difficult. We are frequently told in many countries that if you say something, it makes it harder to do it. Well, that's such a wonderful way of preventing anybody ever saying anything that you can't really deal with it, and I hope it isn't true. Almost certainly Japan doesn't need to be told what needs to be done. It seems to be clearly understood, but perhaps a little more from the outside where we can draw comparisons the IMF does seem to have this unique vantage point of having to report on every country. We do see analogies in the way in which financial sector problems have been dealt with in different countries. We do see repeatedly that delaying in dealing with these problems doesn't help solve them. It only typically worsens them. That is a perspective we get from the viewpoint of dealing with 182 countries, of which 130 some have had financial sector problems in the last decade and a half. And there is experience about how to deal with that.
Question: How does your outlook now for the Indonesian economy compare with that in January, and what signs have you seen from the Indonesian leadership of a willingness this time to play by the rules the IMF is setting?
Mr. Fischer: The outlook for the economy has worsened significantly. There will be projections in the program. The economy has deteriorated a great deal in the last few months. I should say that I think some of the stories we see are exaggerated. When data are not available, people tend to make categorical statements like, "everything has ground to a halt." Well, that's not quite true. Exports, for instance, seem to have picked up in February and March, although everyone says there's no way of getting financing for exports. We don't know precisely what is happening, but the loose adjectives about total collapse are probably not warranted. There will be negative growth in 1998 in all likelihood. As to whether the government has shown signs of implementing the program, that's complicated. We have been very impressed with the people we have negotiated with. Coordinating Minister Grinandjar has done an excellent job in our negotiations with him. You can negotiate in two ways. One is to fight all the time, the other is to say we have a problem, let's find ways to solve it. I think both sides in this case have looked for ways of solving problems rather than treating this as purely a conflict, a situation of conflict. But as to whether it will ultimately be carried out, this is a complicated country, a large country with many competing interests. Some want reform, some don't. Some will benefit from it, some won't. We will simply have to see whether the system as a whole is capable of implementing the reforms. That is why we have a lot of prior actions before the disbursement, the first disbursement is made. That is why, as you will see, there are other precautions in place, including closer monitoring than ever before.
Question: Can you expand on the last point that you just said. That you will have some points where you would check with the Indonesian government whether or not they go along with the rules. I've been hearing reports that you may set up an observance committee.
Mr. Fischer: I think I shouldn't go into details, not because there's anything to hide, but just there is a matter of the Indonesian government having the right to make these announcements, and I don't want to pre-empt them.
Question: Regarding Japan's financial system, you mentioned how important it is that the use of public funds be linked to meaningful reform. How concerned are you that the use of funds might actually create moral hazard issues that could actually hinder reform in Japan's financial system?
Mr. Fischer: If public money is used merely to keep the situation going and doesn't encourage restructuring and ensure restructuring, then there is a substantial moral hazard. But if there is a restructuring and a requirement, for instance, to raise new equity capital, thus diluting the interests of the original shareholders, the moral hazard is mitigated. So, it's not necessarily an important part of the picture. If done wrongly, if the financial sector restructuring is done wrongly, then there could be a moral hazard, but it's not inevitable.
Question. The way the Japanese financial sector program has been addressed so far, if you take a look at it, so far there has been no, hardly any, single bureaucrat or any bank executives who have been severely penalized. Is this the way it ought to be handled?
Mr. Fischer: I don't know what precisely is happening. I tend to see more stories about bureaucrats being forced to resign than I see in other countries, so it seems that something is happening on those grounds. I also see stories that resignations of managements of financial institutions, so I'm not sure that there is nothing happening. What is important is to penalize stockholders, whose banks have gone down. If the bank has gone so far as actually to be insolvent, then it should lose its assets. If the bank is merely undercapitalized, then its interests should be diluted as the capital is restored, possibly through government intervention. Management in any country that has failed should be replaced.
Question: (interpreted) Is fiscal stimulus more important than fiscal reform? And as an element of the package, which is more important, additional public works expenditures or tax cuts?
Mr. Fischer: Many observers of Japan are impressed by the ineffectiveness of the public expenditure increases that have taken place from time to time and by the fact that they may be on very low productivity investments. We've also seen in Japan in the last year how effective a tax increase was in affecting the state of demand. There is therefore a strong economic case for tax reductions, and they should be a substantial, indeed the greater, part of any package that is put together.
Question: I'm a little bit surprised that you aren't badgering Japan even more. I mean, here you have a case where it has been seven years, as you pointed out, and in the past year they have gone through a lot of readjustment and tried to make a lot of changes. But if you look at it specifically every step along the way, they've sort of taken the path of least resistance. I mean, even the public fund bailout right now, I mean, the restructuring programs that they have required of the banks were programs that the banks were going to implement, they were going to implement them anyway. They weren't necessarily linked to the public fund bailout. And the reason I say this is that it has gone on for seven years. I think there needs to be some sort of sense of crisis, and a good forum from which this pressure could come. What do you think about that?
Mr. Fischer: Well, I think you heard the IMF saying what it thinks about the current situation today. There is a serious problem the Japanese government confronts. It knows it. One of the things that's difficult to understand from the outside for somebody who is not closely familiar with the way the Japanese system works is the frequency with which a problem is recognized and a reasonable-sounding plan is put forward and the infrequency with which there is complete follow-up on those plans. And it's that that has to change. It's not that there haven't been a variety of suggestions for dealing with problems over the years, it's that they seem to have not made it very far in practice. That's what seems to be the need. We are not here to tell the Japanese government things it doesn't know. It knows them. We are not experts on why it's been so difficult to do. We do have some knowledge about what needs to be done, and what situations look like in an international perspective. And this one is a serious one and, more important, it's one that can be changed without any profound difficulties.
Question: (interpreted) Was Prime Minister Hashimoto's visit to Jakarta useful in getting the agreement? Second, President Suharto said the IMF program is unconstitutional. Has that problem been resolved?
Mr. Fischer: Thanks. First, the visit of Prime Minister Hashimoto was clearly very useful in encouraging the Indonesian government to understand that, if they wanted the economy to recover, they needed to come back to the IMF program and to carry it out. The international community in general has operated in support of the IMF program, and there's no question that the visit of the Prime Minister, and the visits of other important ministers, Finance Minister Waigel from Germany, Vice President Mondale, and many others to Jakarta, as well as phone calls to President Suharto have had an influence in helping the negotiations along. I would also like to mention that there was, before the IMF mission came to Jakarta, a G-3 team of officials from the United States, Germany, and Japan working on the economic program with the Indonesians. Their visit was helpful. Vice Minister Sakakibara was there while I was there a few days ago. His presence was useful. He was not part of the negotiations but he was seeking to help the Indonesian government. That all has been very helpful. There should be no question of the support, of the whole-hearted support, of the international community for the position that Indonesia should stick to its program with the IMF, and would have to stick to it if it wanted to get financial assistance.
On this other issue that you raise, that statement was made only once. I'm not sure what it was about. It was the president who had signed the January 15 agreement, so I'm not sure what the force of that was. It is clear that the program that we have now addresses and deals with all of the 50 points in the January 15th program, and some more.
Question: Mr. Fischer, maybe you are aware of the situation in Indonesia, so at the end of last month, the government issued, announced the new regulations to put a tax on the foreign exchange, and the next week, they retracted the announcement. So, on the same week also the government announced and guaranteed there will be no bank closed. And last week at least seven banks were closed by the government, not by the government, maybe by the, what we call BPP. How do you oversee this kind of inconsistency situation, economic policy situation in Indonesia?
Mr. Fischer: Well, that foreign currency tax was announced very suddenly and it hadn't been considered by the government, so it was better that it not go into place; that was just a short aberration. After it was discussed very briefly, it was taken away. I'm not sure about the banking guarantee that you mention. I don't know any story about that. It is clear that the taking over by the agency that in English is known as IBRA, Indonesia Bank Restructuring Agency, I think it's the same one you referred to, was very important for dealing with a major macroeconomic problem which is the continued provision of liquidity support to these banks which was fueling the foreign exchange difficulties and the weakening of the rupiah. That had to be done, to take them over and begin to clean them up to restore macroeconomic stability and to restore the strength of the banking system. There should be no belief that all banks will remain as they are. Other banks may have to be taken over by IBRA, but there is an important guarantee of deposits that will be honored and that has been honored to the 14 banks that were dealt with this weekend by IBRA. Any policy inconsistency is a problem and I'm sure that as the new team gets into place, and as we work closely with them, we will see fewer and fewer inconsistencies.
Question: One of the five key issues that the IMF is undertaking with Indonesia is this question of the holdings of the Suharto family. Can you give us any kind of sense here on what kinds of concessions President Suharto and his family have made in terms of the cartels they hold, in terms of the favoritism that has gone on for decades. What kind of concessions have been made, and what signals have you really received that they are prepared to dismantle something that they have spent decades building up?
Mr. Fischer: That is not one of the five areas. There is an area known as structural reform. And in the area of structural reform there are measures to deal with some of the monopolies that were an important part of the way the Indonesian economy operated. All those measures are still in the program, they will still be dealt with. They have deadlines for their implementation. There is provision to monitor those things better. We have received the signals only that the committee with which we've been negotiating has agreed to these measures and we know they have been keeping the President informed on a daily, or every other day, basis. Whether those things are carried out is what determines whether the program will go ahead, and we have phased measures in place. If they're not implemented, the program won't go ahead. We have no assurance. We cannot have assurance, given history, that it will be done, but if it's not done, the program cannot proceed.
Question: I'd just like to press you a little bit more on the issue of the $3 billion loan due to be released once the agreement is signed. If all actions are taken by the Indonesian government with reasonable speed, what's the earliest possible date, even a rough idea, that that could be released. And there was also a media report this morning that Japanese authorities are thinking of front-loading loans to Indonesia. Have you heard this from Japanese authorities?
Mr. Fischer: It's unfortunate that this news conference is happening at this particular time, which is possibly an hour or so before some of these details will become publicly available. We are aware of the Japanese government's offer to help Indonesia after the IMF Board agrees to the next tranche disbursement. The Australian government has also indicated that it will provide some money in support of the next tranche of the IMF agreement. But there are complicated measures relating to disbursements of funds, which are all there in the direction of trying to provide safeguards to the implementation of the program and incentives for the implementation of the program. So, in a couple of days that will become clearer. There have been some changes in the way, not in the amounts, in the way money will be disbursed in the program, for safeguard reasons.
IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT