IMF to Indonesia: We Mean It This Time

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JAKARTA: Is Indonesia becoming an Iraq for bean counters? Concessions from both President Suharto and the International Monetary Fund have yielded yet another version of the Fund's $43 billion rescue package -- the third restructuring of the bailout in six months -- and the IMF is still waiting for results.

"It's going to be a protracted struggle on both sides," predicts TIME correspondent Bill Dowell. Just as the U.S. found bombing Saddam was pointless and unappetizing, he says, "the IMF has no willingness to withhold the money, and Suharto knows it. The fund won't abandon him."

A brief suspension of funds in February got Suharto back to the table. But the president continues to coddle his family and cronies with sweet business deals and top government economic posts, making real reform almost impossible. "Suharto sincerely wants to avoid a disaster," says Dowell. "But he's not willing to damage his family's businesses." The new compromise is signed and sealed, but far from delivered. And the waiting continues. Sound familiar?