Saturday, November 7, 2009

Indonesia economic growth will reach 6 percent in 2011

State Minister of National Development Planning/Head of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) Armida S Alisjahbana said in 2011 the government will step up economic growth to six percent.

She made the statement at a meeting between the media and Bappenas in Bogor Friday.He said that the acceleration in 2011 was made as the world economy may have been restored to normal, increasing exports and investments.

In the meantime, most economic obstacles may have been overcome in 2010, meeting the initial targets of the new government, so that in 2010 economic growth may at least reached 5.5 percent.

He said that under these circumstances, acceleration is possible, so that in 2014 economic growth is expected to reach at least seven percent.

He also said that the acceleration can be successful if no external shock had occurred, such as the price of oil increasing up to 160 US dollars per barrel, or a financial shock like what happened in 2008.

In the meantime, to stabilize the economy, Armida said she will focus on a synergy of national development, as well as intensifying synergy between the different regions and thereby boosting domestic connectivity.

She also said that in December 2009 she will hold a consultative meeting on national development planning for a national middle-term development plan.

Source: | Antara |

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Strategy for charitable giving

By Linda Stern* | Reuters |

Charitable giving tends to peak in the last two months of the year as donors are doubly inspired by the holiday spirit and the prospects of boosting their year-end tax-deductible spending. But they often diminish the power of those donations by not carefully targeting their gifts or by making them in a less tax-advantaged way.

That's not good, especially this year when charities really need the help.

Nonprofits are bracing for a grim season because job and stock market losses have hurt their donors. Major nonprofits are expecting donations to drop by 9 percent this year, after falling almost 6 percent last year, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Meanwhile the charities are being squeezed from both directions: They have more clients needing more help, so it becomes even more important that donors act smart about their giving.

"Many folks are trying to do more with less," says Lisa Philp, head of Philanthropic Services at JPMorgan's Private Bank in New York. "We spend a lot of time helping people doing triage and thinking through their gifts."

Here's how to do the right thing, in the right way.

-- Concentrate your gifts on fewer groups. Sending $20 here and $20 there dilutes the power of your gifts, and your influence on how they are used. And it guarantees that you'll be on many, many mailing lists going forward. Instead, take the time to think of the two or three causes most dear to your heart. Look at, or the Better Business Bureau ( to find groups that fit best. Write bigger checks there.

-- Think large and small. Big national charities do offer economies of scale. For example, the Better Business Bureau notes that Feeding America, a large national hunger-relief organization, says it can produce up to $30 in food for every $1 that gets donated, because of connections and economies not available to the public. On the other hand, you can maximize your impact and involvement by donating funds to a small, local group that is aimed at the cause you care about.

-- Aim for governance. Traditionally, donors have tried to give to charities that spend the least amount of money running themselves, giving out the highest percentage of cash in direct aid. But Philp says that smaller charities in particular can benefit most from gifts aimed at helping the charity build capacity. Making a grant specifically earmarked toward having the charity board attend classes on management or fundraising, for example, could give the charity a big boost. If you're going to invest in a big way like this in a small group, it's a good idea to ask the group for a business plan or a strategic plan for how it will spend your money, says Philp.

-- Give stocks and mutual fund shares. If you have a gain in a stock or other security, you can give it to a charity and maximize its value. You won't have to pay taxes on the gain (as you would if you sold the stock and donated the proceeds), and neither will the nonprofit charity. You'll get a tax deduction for the full value of the security.

There's another strategy that bears mentioning: This year, many mutual funds will log big capital gains that they will hand out to shareholders as taxable distributions. If you hand over shares of the fund to a charity, you may avoid being taxed on those gains. You would have to make the gift before the fund makes its annual distribution.

-- Retirees get a special deal, too. If you are over 70 and don't itemize deductions, you can transfer money directly from your IRA to the charity of your choice and you will not be taxed on the IRA withdrawal. This is a special tax break that expires after this year, so if you have a sizable IRA and were considering making a big gift in the future, this would be a good time to do that.

-- Car donors have to take an extra step. Giving away your clunker doesn't get you a deduction for the Kelly Blue Book value of your car unless you give it to an organization that uses it as a car. Other organizations may hire someone to sell the car for you, and you would only get a tax deduction for the amount of cash the charity actually pockets from its sale. So if you have a usable car that you would like to donate, give it to a group that will offer it to a needy family that needs a car or will use it directly in some other way.

(editing by Gunna Dickson)
Picture source: Reuters
* -- Linda Stern is a freelance writer. Any opinions in the column are hers. You can follow Linda Stern's financial notes on Twitter at --

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Europe witnesses its biggest market share drop

European shares sharply fell on Friday, with a key index recording its biggest monthly decline in eight months, as financial stocks lost heavily on mixed U.S. economic data a day after better-than-expected GDP numbers.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top shares provisionally closed down 2.3 percent at 974.45 points.

The index, which is up more than 51 percent from its lifetime low in early March, fell 2.3 percent in October. The index had gained in the previous three months.

"I think today a lot of people are settling up positions for the end of the month. A lot of people are using yesterday's gains as an opportunity to close out profits at a higher level," said Joshua Raymond, market strategist at City Index.

The market was knocked after U.S. consumer sentiment slipped this month, though business activity in the U.S. Midwest expanded in October to the highest level since September 2008.

Banks retreated from earlier gains and took the most points off the index. Banco Santander (SAN.MC), BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) were down 3.4 to 4.5 percent.

(Reporting by Joanne Frearson, editing by Atul Prakash for REUTERS
Picture source: Reuters

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World's Larget & Most Expensive Cruise Ship Launched

By JAN M. OLSEN, Associated Press Writer  Sun Nov 1, 2009

The world's largest cruise ship cleared a crucial obstacle Sunday, lowering its smokestacks to squeeze under a bridge in Denmark.

The Oasis of the Seas — which rises about 20 stories high — passed below the Great Belt Fixed Link with a slim margin as it left the Baltic Sea on its maiden voyage to Florida.

Bridge operators said that even after lowering its telescopic smokestacks the giant ship had less than a 2-foot (half-meter) gap.

Hundreds of people gathered on beaches at both ends of the bridge, waiting for hours to watch the brightly lit behemoth sail by shortly after midnight (2300GMT; 7 p.m. EDT).

"It was fantastic to see it glide under the bridge. Boy, it was big," said Kurt Hal, 56.

Company officials are banking that its novelty will help guarantee its success. Five times larger than the Titanic, the $1.5 billion ship has seven neighborhoods, an ice rink, a small golf course and a 750-seat outdoor amphitheater. It has 2,700 cabins and can accommodate 6,300 passengers and 2,100 crew members.

Accommodations include loft cabins, with floor-to-ceiling windows, and 1,600-square-foot (487-meter) luxury suites with balconies overlooking the sea or promenades.

The liner also has four swimming pools, volleyball and basketball courts, and a youth zone with theme parks and nurseries for children.

Oasis of the Sea, nearly 40 percent larger than the industry's next-biggest ship, was conceived years before the economic downturn caused desperate cruise lines to slash prices to fill vacant berths.

It was built by STX Finland for Royal Caribbean International and left the shipyard in Finland on Friday. Officials hadn't expected any problems in passing the Great Belt bridge, but traffic was stopped for about 15 minutes as a precaution when the ship approached, Danish navy spokesman Joergen Brand said.

Aboard the Oasis of the Seas, project manager Toivo Ilvonen of STX Finland confirmed that the ship had passed under the bridge without any incidents.

"Nothing fell off," he said.

The enormous ship features various "neighborhoods" — parks, squares and arenas with special themes. One of them will be a tropical environment, including palm trees and vines among the total 12,000 plants on board. They will be planted after the ship arrives in Fort Lauderdale.

In the stern, a 750-seat outdoor theater — modeled on an ancient Greek amphitheater — doubles as a swimming pool by day and an ocean front theater by night. The pool has a diving tower with spring boards and two 33-foot (10-meter) high-dive platforms. An indoor theater seats 1,300 guests.

One of the "neighborhoods," named Central Park, features a square with boutiques, restaurants and bars, including a bar that moves up and down three decks, allowing customers to get on and off at different levels.

Once home, the $1.5 billion floating extravaganza will have more, if less visible, obstacles to duck: a sagging U.S. economy, questions about the consumer appetite for luxury cruises and criticism that such sailing behemoths are damaging to the environment and diminish the experience of traveling.

It is due to make its U.S. debut on Nov. 20 at its home port, Port Everglades in Florida.

Pictures by: The Associated Press and Reuters

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