Wed, 19 Dec 2007

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government allows foreign investors to develop the economies of small islands in Indonesia provided they care for the local people`s welfare, ministers said.

Marine and Fishery Minister Freddy Numberi and Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik made the remarks here Tuesday after attending the 8th Archipelago Day in response to reports on the sale of two islets in Indonesia by a property agent.

"We are not certain that our own people want to invest in development of small islands. Thus, we have to boost foreign investment in small islands," Freddy said.

The minister denied reports about the sale of small islands to foreigners as they had only invested capital to develop the islets and exercise concession rights, not proprietary rights on the isles.

He said the property agent had not offered the isles for sale but only wanted to rent out plots of land located on Meriam Besar Island and Panjang Island in Sumbawa district, West Nusa Tenggara province.

Meanwhile, Jero Wacik said foreign investment in small islands was allowed so long as the regulations were clear and it gave welfare to local people.

"Investment in small islands offers job opportunities and lowers the unemployement rate," he said.

Freddy said investors who sink their capital in small islands were not allowed to block local people`s access to water or land areas on the islets. (*)