Wed, 25 Mar 2009
From: The Jakarta Post
By Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, JAKARTA
Leaders of foreign chambers of commerce have ensured no letup in their commitment to Indonesia amid the current challenging times marked by a worsening global economic meltdown and general elections at home.

While businesses have become tougher nowadays amid the economic downturn, stopping investing and leaving the country is simply not an option, the leaders said Tuesday following a meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the State Palace.

Some of the investors even promised to expand their businesses and work together to weather the global economic crisis on the government’s promises.

“They say Indonesia is one of the world’s best-kept secrets,” Peter Fanning, chairman of the
International Business Chamber, said of Indonesia’s economic potential.

“We don’t live here because we have to. We live here because we want to... because we believe in Indonesia.”

Jakarta Japan Club vice president and CEO of Marubeni Indonesia, Komuro Seiji, said not only would Japanese investors retain their businesses, but they would “also expand our business activities”.

Earlier, when opening the forum, the President told the businesses they should not adopt a wait-and-see approach when it came to materializing their expansion plans despite the global crisis and election at home.

“The government will continue to ensure a conducive business and investment climate in these hard times so as not to lose the momentum,” he said.

While expressing their confidence in Indonesia, they also expected the government to fix
long-standing problems detrimental to investment, such as inconsistent and overlapping regulations, lack of transparency in the government’s so-called negative list of invest-ment, slow and costly bureaucracy, etc.

“The issues discussed at the meeting generally related to consistency and transparency of regulations. They gave few examples,” Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said after the two-and-a-half-hour meeting.

She added foreign investors had raised concern about how many regulations set by the government were in conflict with those made by regional administrations, as well as about inconsistencies in regulations set by different government institutions.

Another issue raised at the meeting was “about a presidential regulation, in which sectors are closed, or open with conditions [to foreign investors]. They want that regulation to be fixed,” Mari said.

“The revision is actually underway, and we are in discussions about this with them.”

She added foreign investors demanded more sectors be open, but no specific sectors were named at the meeting.

Under a 2007 regulation, dubbed the negative list, the government sets out descriptions of which business sectors are closed - partly or entirely - to foreign investors.

The list is required under the 2007 Law on Investment and governs a total of 338 business sectors, including 69 sectors that will be more open than before and another 11 that will become more restricted.



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