Subject: AN: Rupiah still used in ET

Antara - The Indonesian National News Agency October 20, 2001


Dili, E Timor, Oct 20 (ANTARA) - Indonesia's currency, the rupiah, especially of the Rp 5000 to Rp 50000 denomination, is still legally accepted as a means of exchange in Timor Lorosae, along with the US dollar.

ANTARA found out in Maubessi and Aileu districts, some 180 km south of Dili, the capital of the former Indonesian province, Saturday that the residents while doing their shopping and other business activities were using both currencies as legal tender.

"We continue using the two currencies, and for us, villagers, it is easier to count the rupiah as we have become accustomed to use the Indonesian currency for the past 24 years, and a change into another different currency would take some time," said Maria Mendenes, owner of the Rosa da Menthana restaurant in Maubessi.

She said that it was still difficult for farmers in Maubessi to use the US dollar instead of the rupiah since the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has yet to more intensively socialize the change in currency to the people living in the remote villages.

The dollar is at present widely used only in Dili and Baucau, while the rupiah is practically still the only legal tender in the other parts of the newly independent country.

A vegetable trader, Antonio de Araujo, said the farmers preferred using the rupiah to the American currency in the sale of their produce as, for them, the Indonesian currency is easier to count and widely in circulation in the villages.

"Even before the balloting some years back, I have been collecting and keeping the rupiah, and now I find it rather difficult to change the Indonesian legal tender with the dollar. The people in Maubisse appear still to prefer the rupiah, and are rather reluctant to use the American currency," he said.

If the UNTAET wished to change the rupiah with the dollar they should explain it to the people in the villages and immediately set up money changers in those places, he added.

The price of potato in Maubisse and Aileu reaches Rp12.500 per kg, red beans Rp20.000/kg, rices Rp1.500/kg, corn Rp1.000/kg, red onion Rp5.000/kg, garlic Rp6.500/kg, purebred chicken eggs Rp30.000/rack, cocacola Rp8.000/tin, "Victoria" beer Rp15.000/tin, Agua mineral water Rp8.000/large bottle, ABC soya sauce Rp15.000/bottle, and Sprite softdrink Rp8.000/tin.

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