World Bank offers disaster-hit Indonesia $1 billion in loans

A 7.5-magnitude quake and a resulting tsunami tore through Palu city on Sulawesi island on Sept. 28, killing more than 2,000 people and leaving thousands more missing, presumed dead. (AFP)
Updated 14 October 2018
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World Bank offers disaster-hit Indonesia $1 billion in loans

  • A 7.5-magnitude quake and a resulting tsunami tore through Palu city on Sulawesi island on Sept. 28, killing more than 2,000 people
  • World Bank CEO suggests the fund could be used for reconstruction and preparedness for future disasters

NUSA DUA, Indonesia: The World Bank on Sunday announced funding of up to $1 billion for Indonesia after it was rocked by a string of recent disasters, including a deadly earthquake-tsunami that killed thousands.
CEO Kristalina Georgieva unveiled the funds at Indonesian holiday island Bali, where the Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been holding their annual meetings.
A 7.5-magnitude quake and a resulting tsunami tore through Palu city on Sulawesi island on Sept. 28, killing more than 2,000 people and leaving thousands more missing, presumed dead.
Rescue teams scoured the wreckage for a fortnight before calling off the search for the dead, acknowledging as many as 5,000 missing people might never be found.
Georgieva said the funds being made available by the Bank in the form of loans could be used for reconstruction but were also intended to help Indonesia build “resilience,” so it would be better prepared in the face of future disasters.
“Disasters will continue to hit and with climate change there will be more,” said Georgieva, who visited Palu earlier this week.
“The best memorial we can build for the victims of disaster is to build better, so next time when a disaster hits fewer people are affected, fewer lives are lost, and there is less damage.”
Nearly 90,000 people were displaced by the quake in Palu, forcing them into evacuation centers across the rubble-strewn city.
Officials said it could be two years before all the homeless are found permanent accommodation.
Aid groups say a dearth of clean drinking water and medical supplies remains a very real concern for 200,000 people in urgent need.
Donations have begun pouring into the coastal city of 350,000 after a slow start which saw Indonesia criticized for stalling the flow of relief supplies.
The shallow 7.5-magnitude tremor was more powerful than a series of quakes this summer that killed more than 550 people on the Indonesian island of Lombok and neighboring Sumbawa.
Indonesia has been hit by a string of other deadly quakes, including a devastating 9.1-magnitude tremor that struck off the coast of Sumatra in December 2004, killing 220,000 throughout the region, including 168,000 in Indonesia.
Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati welcomed the pledge.
“This is not one earmark for a certain project, this is something that can be used by the government to support (people) during this uncertain time,” she said.
The funding was particularly important in the current economic climate, she said, “with much higher interest rates, tightening of liquidity, (it is) a much harder environment for us to get financing from outside.”
Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth.
It lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where tectonic plates collide and many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.


France’s Nicolas Sarkozy loses bid to avoid influence peddling trial

Updated 19 June 2019
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France’s Nicolas Sarkozy loses bid to avoid influence peddling trial

  • Sarkozy is accused of offering to help a judge win promotion
  • Sarkozy’s lawyers have previously argued that magistrates investigating the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers

PARIS: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will stand trial for influence peddling after the country's highest court rejected his final bid to have the case thrown out, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Sarkozy is accused of offering to help a judge win promotion in return for leaked information about a separate inquiry. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
The case came about after investigators used phone-taps to examine allegations that late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi funded Sarkozy’s successful campaign for the presidency in 2007.
As they eavesdropped on his calls, the investigators began to suspect the former president had offered the judge promotion in return for information on another investigation involving allegations Sarkozy accepted illicit payments from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for the same campaign.
Sarkozy’s lawyers have previously argued that magistrates investigating the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers and went on a “fishing expedition” by tapping his conversations between September 2013 and March 2014, breaching lawyer-client privilege.
He was cleared over the Bettencourt allegations.
On Wednesday, his defence team said the use in this case of wiretapped remarks gleaned in relation to a different investigation contravened a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.
"These legal issues are still relevant," Sarkozy lawyer Jacqueline Laffont said. "It will be for the court to decide whether a French court can override a decision of the European Court of Human Rights."
Wednesday's ruling that the trial proceed came from the 'Cour de Cassation', which decides whether an earlier decision by an appeals court conforms with French law.