Subject: E Timor To Return Rupiah In Bid To Make US Dlr Only Currency

Associated Press June 8, 2001

E Timor To Return Rupiah In Bid To Make Dlr Only Currency

JAKARTA (AP)--East Timor's U.N. administrators Friday agreed to return billions of Indonesian rupiah to Jakarta as the fledgling nation pushes to make the U.S. dollar its only currency.

The U.N. administration introduced official use of the U.S. dollar in January 2000.

However, the Indonesian rupiah as well as the Australian dollar and the Portuguese escudos have remained in widespread circulation.

Although the U.N. pays its staff in U.S. dollars, many businesses prefer to set their prices in the Australian currency, while many ordinary East Timorese continue to use rupiah to buy cheap Indonesian goods.

One of the main problems is that small traders in food markets and elsewhere find it hard to sell their goods, including fruit and vegetables, in U.S. dollars because the value of dollar bills is too high.

To get around this, U.N. administrators have imported US$300,000 worth of American coins.

In Jakarta Friday, the U.N.'s Indonesian representative Lakhan Mehrota signed an agreement with Bank Indonesia Deputy Governor Miranda Goeltom to return an estimated IDR220 billion ($1=IDR11,175) in bank notes and coins to Indonesia over the next six months.

A dozen countries and territories around the world already use the U.S. dollar as their official currency, including El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala and Panama.

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