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Indonesia seizing foundations – Shift in works for Suharto’s legacy

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A presidential decree will give the government of Indonesia control of $540 million in assets held by seven foundations established by former President Suharto, The Jakarta Post reports.

While Suharto still is chairman of the foundations, the government has served only as their coordinaator without the power to disburse funds, the newspaper says.

The decree would give the government’s Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare and Poverty Eradication the right to use funds from the foundations, Basri Hasanuddin, the ministry’s coordinating minister, told the Post.

In the face of public criticism, Suharto in November 1998 handed over the foundations with the understanding that funds could be used for government programs to fight poverty, the Post says.

Controversy over the funds involves the way in which money was collected, often through “official siphoning” of funds through presidential decree, the newspaper says.

Those decrees were revoked when Suharto stepped down.

But while the government functions as “operational coordinator” for the foundations, it has had no direct authority to disburse funds without approval of former top government officials of the Suharto era.

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