Tue, 08 Mar 2005

Govt puts BKPM under Ministry of Trade

Zakki P. Hakim and Muninggar Sri Saraswati The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

The government has placed the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) under the coordination of the Ministry of Trade in a bid to boost investment in the country.

Minister of Trade Mari E. Pangestu said on Monday that based on presidential regulation No. 11/2005, her ministry would support the investment agency in terms of policy coordination in various business sectors.

"We realize that investment concerns so many sectors. So, our task is to help and coordinate with the BPKM. We'll help coordinate the policies in each sector, but the BPKM will still be the one to implement those policies.

"It has been the ministry's responsibility to decide which sector will be open to investment and which will not. Now, we have a wider responsibility," Mari said.

Established in 1973, the BKPM was created with the purpose of coordinating the realization of foreign and domestic investments in the country. It reports directly to the President.

However, the board has been a subject of criticism due to the country's continued sluggish investment performance, especially from offshore, with the investment climate having yet to drastically improve.

According to a 2004 World Bank survey, it took 156 days to start a business in the country -- among the longest time needed in the Asia-Pacific region, where the average time to start a business was about 50 days.

Reports have it that the licensing process had become time- consuming largely because of the abundant, often overlapping, procedures an investor had to go through at relevant state institutions.

Placing the BKPM under the Ministry of Trade is also designed to help better coordinated related ministries.

Moreover, Mari said that part of her new responsibility was to synchronize efforts to promote trade and tourism to the international world.

"At the end of the day, we will all be responsible to the President," said Mari.