Tuesday, July 31, 2007


BRI voted country's best bank due to its role in local banking

Saturday, July 28, 2007
PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) and four other Indonesian financial institutions have been voted the best financial institutions in the country in the latest evaluation by Alpha South East Asia, an investment magazine based in Hong Kong.

Besides BRI, which was named best bank, the other three are PT Bank Mandiri, Mandiri Sekuritas and PT Danareksa Sekuritas.

Mandiri was named Best Cash Management House and Best Trade Finance House, Mandiri Sekuritas named Best Bond House, and Danareksa named Best Investment Bank, Best Equity House and Best Broker.

"This award is the first of its kind in Asia, uniquely recognizing the achievements and capabilities of locally incorporated banks and brokerages in South East Asia," said Siddiq Bazarwala, CEO of Alpha South East Asia, during the presentation of the awards Thursday evening.

In its special awards issue, the magazine describes BRI as the best bank due to its role in local banking and its ability to generate substantial return for its shareholders.

Alpha reported that BRI was one of the few banks in Asia that could maintain an NPL rate of less than 5 percent, operate on a high net interest margin of over 11 percent, and generate a return on assets of 4.36 percent and a 33.75 percent return on equity.

"No other bank in Southeast Asia enjoys as large a net interest margin as BRI does. With its banking reach the widest among Indonesian banks, BRI is a model for banking in Indonesia."

A total of 35 awards were announced after the credentials of 128 financial institutions, banks and brokerages from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines were reviewed. (02)

Tanners urge ban on raw leather exports to support shoe industry

Friday, July 27, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government should completely ban the export of raw leather rather than just imposing a high export duty in order to prevent a shortage on the domestic market and to increase the utilization of local materials by the domestic footwear industry, says an association representing the country's tanners.

Indonesian Tanners Association (APKI) chairman Diyono Hening Sasmito said Wednesday that the tanning industry had suffered during the economic crisis as the government had failed to support the sector. This resulted in firms opting to export wet blue leather rather than finished leather.

This situation had effectively edged out local tanneries from the local downstream leather industry, Dinoyo said during the launching of a new trade publication, the Indonesian Leather Specification Profile 2007.

"Before the crisis, although there was no specific regulation on the leather trade, there was an export duty to discourage the export of wet blue leather. Exports of finished leather and leather goods used to be in third position among non-oil and gas exports, but they are now in 12th position," said Diyono.

He said that the current national production of leather stood at only 110 million square feet per year, much lower than the industry's installed capacity of 240 million square feet.

"Only 30 percent of the 110 million square feet is purchased by domestic industry, and that's not only for the production of shoes, but also for garments, gloves, furniture, leather goods and handbags," he said.

In an attempt to bridge the gap between the upstream and downstream sectors of the leather industry, APKI and the Indonesian Footwear Producers Association (Aprisindo), in collaboration with USAID, have launched the Indonesian Leather Specification Profile 2007.

Hery Kameswara, an industry advisor with USAID's SENADA Indonesia Competitiveness Program, said that the research and analyses undertaken by SENADA showed that there was a communications gap between the leather tanneries and footwear manufacturers regarding the types, quality and volumes of leather needed for footwear production.

"This profile should facilitate information exchanges and lead to increased business transactions between domestic leather tanneries and footwear manufacturers," he said.

The profile provides contact details, capacities and product specifications of 152 tanneries, which are concentrated on Java island.

Eddy Widjanarko, Aprisindo chairman, said that the government should draw up strategies for the development of the upstream and downstream industries, and review the regulations on leather imports, which he claimed had been hampering the downstream sector.

"This cooperation will help the footwear industry reduce sourcing costs, particularly the high cost of importing leather," said Eddy. (02)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Film Review: The Italian

Directed by Andrei Kravchuk
Sony Pictures Classics 01/07 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG-13 - some violence, sexual content, language, thematic issues
Review by: Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

Vanya (Kolya Spiridonov) is a six-year-old boy who lives with many other boys in a run-down Russian orphanage. The headmaster (Yuri Itskov) is overwhelmed by the challenges of taking care of these children, most of whom were abandoned by their parents. Kolyan (Denis Moiseenko) really runs things in the place, operating as the underground leader of a gang. He takes money from the orphans who work for him, including Vanya who washes cars at a gas station for a tip.

One of the brightest moments in the lives of these bedraggled and lonely children comes when "Madam" (Maria Kuznetsova) shows up with parents who want to adopt a child. She is actually a baby broker operating illegally and making a lot of money satisfying the needs of wealthy Europeans in search of a child.

Vanya is fortunate enough to be chosen by a rich Italian couple who immediately fall in love with him at their first visit to the orphanage. Every children in the orphanage, including the member of the gang, call him "Italiano" since then. The other orphans are jealous of his good fortune to be given a chance for a better life. But Vanya is not so sure.

He meets the distraught birth mother of a boy who has just been adopted by foreign parents. She is filled with guilt and, shortly after talking with Vanya, commits suicide. With great determination and energy, he sets out to find his own birth mother no matter what it takes.

First, he needs to learn to read. He convinces Irka (Olga Shuvalova), a feisty orphan who earns money as a prostitute, to teach him. After breaking into the headmaster's office to steal his records, Vanya escapes from the orphanage and begins his quest to make contact with his birth mother.

Based on a true story, The Italian is the official Russian entry in the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Director Andrei Kravchuk has made a gritty and unsentimental film about a stubborn and plucky little boy who is sets out a journey that involves risk, danger, and disappointment. It doesn't seem to faze him in the least.

Irka helps Vanya escape from the orphanage but runs into problems with the police when she is caught stealing. The Madam is shocked to discover that the boy has jeopardized her deal with the Italians. She and her security guard and personal driver prove to be resourceful trackers of the young boy. Vanya is beaten and robbed by some tough kids who live on the streets, but he is also helped by several people. His story reminds us of how sad it is that so many children in the world have been deprived of the parental love and the nurturing that most of us take for granted.