South Sumatra, which boasts abundant natural resources, plans to develop a special economic zone around the Tanjung Api-api port, with Coordinating Economics Minister Hatta Rajasa making a sales pitch for his own home province.
Endorsing the ambitious plan, Hatta told a dinner gathering Monday that through agriculture and mining industries, South Sumatra had the basics necessary to play a larger role in international trade provided it had the right support and policies.
The minister said the first priority would be to improve the port facilities and build a railway link to transport coal to Tanjung Api-api.
"It's high time South Sumatra gets its act together to attract investors," he said at the gathering of mostly media executives on the eve of the National Press Day. Hatta said that to make this happen, the government would discourage companies from exporting raw materials by offering financial incentives for them to process them beforehand.
Governor Alex Nurdin supported Hatta's ambitions, saying the local administration was building many strategic infrastructures such as construction of the Third Musi Bridge, new power plants and new sports venues ahead of the Southeast Asia Games, which it would host in 2011.
He said South Sumatra's economic potential included plantation crops, food crops, mining, oil and gas. "They have remained largely untapped by investors," he said.