Sat, 14 Feb 2009
From: Reuters
JAKARTA, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Indonesia's Aceh, rich in resources ranging from coffee to natural gas, aims to lure more investment now that the state agency to rebuild after the 2004 tsunami is set to close, its governor said on Friday.

The province is one of the poorest in Indonesia, despite its resources, after three decades of separatist conflict and a tsunami which killed 170,000 people and destroyed infrastructure.

"Continued funding for rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes beyond 2009 are necessary," Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf told a conference in Jakarta.

Yusuf, a former rebel elected after a peace pact with the central government was signed in 2005, has vowed to fight corruption and maintain peace to attract investment.

The state reconstruction agency (BRR), set up after the devastating 2004 tsunami to manage a huge global outpouring of donor aid, is due to wind down operations in April.

Now the fledgling local government must take the main role, following a decree by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to end the role of BRR in Aceh and Nias, a small island off Sumatra hit by a major earthquake in 2005.

The agency has built 134,000 houses, 3,600 km (2,237 miles) of roads, and about 1,400 schools in Aceh and Nias, spending $6.7 billion from donors and the Indonesian government, BRR agency chief Kuntoro Mangkusubroto said.

Yusuf said the province, which has some pristine forest areas, would try to attract investment into carbon trading schemes and seek to develop food crops and fisheries.

The governor said he would also seek to establish streamlined rules and open a new office in Aceh to attract investment.

President Yudhoyono promised to establish a new agency to ensure oversight of reconstruction work in Aceh.

The head of Aceh-Nias reconstruction agency in December said Aceh must reduce crime and improve workers' skills to attract investment and create jobs.

While the peace agreement has generally been regarded as successful, there are concerns elections this year could fan tensions in the province on the northern tip of Sumatra. (Reporting by Olivia Rondonuwu; Editing by Ed Davies and Jerry Norton)



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