In a bid to expand the country's shipping industry, the government is set to wrap up a loan agreement worth around US$150 million from Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).
"The funding is expected to be disbursed between 2008 and 2009," the Transportation Ministry's director general of sea transportation, Effendi Batubara, said Monday.
Effendi said the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) was currently finalizing the agreement with JBIC.
The loan is aimed at further expanding the country's shipping industry, following sluggish performance from local banks to disburse loans to the sector which is deemed risky.
Seven shipping firms and seven shipyards had expressed interest in the foreign loan, Effendi said, but refused to name the companies.
The loans are expected to carry an interest rate of around 1.3 percent annually, he said.
On a separate occasion, Effendi said the government would speed up plans to downsize the number of ports which were able to serve export and import activities.
Under the plan, he said, the government would only allow 24 of the current 141 ports to serve international shipments.
"There will be one port in East Nusa Tenggara, one in Bali, one in Maluku, one in Batam in Riau, two in Sulawesi, four in Kalimantan, four in Papua, five in Java and five in Sumatra," he said.
The downsizing is expected to reduce smuggling, and make it easier for the government to supervise the ports. JP/Aditya Suharmoko