Thu, 26 Nov 2009
From: The Jakarta Globe
By Muhamad Al Azhari & Janeman Latul
Gita Wirjawan, the new head of the Investment Coordinating Board, is optimistic about the country’s future as an investment destination.

He said foreign investors remained “bullish” on the country, despite long-term poor competitiveness ratings by international agencies. Gita said part of his strategy to attract investors was assuring them about Indonesia’s “directionality,” which he explained as the direction where the country is headed in the future.

“Investors take risks,” said Gita, the former Indonesia country chief for US firm JPMorgan Chase.

“There are no investors who don’t take risks. Not taking risks is often more of a problem for them. As long as a particular investor is educated about the trajectory of Indonesia, where it is going to be in the next 24 to 36 months, then he or she will take a view as to whether he or she will bet a dollar on Indonesia.”

The International Finance Corporation, the investment arm of the World Bank, still ranks Indonesia at No. 122 in its “Ease of Doing Business” survey - worse than Rwanda - out of 178 countries surveyed annually.

Moody’s Investors Service still rates Indonesia’s sovereign bonds at Ba2, two levels below investment grade, which generally indicates that the economy is less competitive than its rivals.

Gita said these ratings “apply to many things, not just investment in portfolios but more importantly, real sector investment.”

As one of his top priorities, Gita said he would continue his predecessor’s idea of creating a one-stop licensing centre for businesses, as well as link important government agencies with the Investment Coordinating Board, also known as the BKPM, to process different licenses for investors.

He said he would lobby for revisions on the much-maligned “negative investment list,” which has a confusing array of limits on foreign investment in hundreds of investment categories.

In any case, Gita remains confident about foreign investors’ appetite for investing in Indonesia.

“I spent the last week and a half traveling abroad attending international meetings, and the bullishness in respect to Indonesia is quite real. It’s up to us to take advantage of this. It’s make or break time,” he said.

Clifford D. Rees, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia, told the Jakarta Globe that while he supported Gita’s plans, he was skeptical about the implementation of the one-stop licensing centre plan.

“I think a single-stop policy is a fantastic idea because it’s more efficient, but I’m afraid it will be difficult to implement because it will be hard to relieve some ministries of their authority and give it to the BKPM,” he said.



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