By Andi Abdussalam
The development of the Mandalika Special Economic Zone and Tourist Resort Area should be accelerated so that the local people could soon enjoy its economic benefits and improve their welfare, the Vice President said.
The Mandalika KEK project was planned 25 years ago but several constraints had always hampered its realization, he said.
"The constraints included inadequate road infrastructure, the absence of airport, electricity and clean water supplies. But all these have been overcome so there is no reason to slow down the development of Mandalika," he said.
West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) province is expected to have a world-class tourist resort comparable to Bali, when the Mandalika Resort Development project in Central Lombok District is completed.
The development of the US$3 billion Mandalika Resort, which is expected to attract one million tourists annually, began in October 2011. Then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono inaugurated its groundbreaking.
Sitting on a 1,175 hectare area in Kuta, Pujut subdistrict, Central Lombok, the Mandalika Resort will be developed into one of the national tourism icons, even of the world, then chief economic minister Hatta Rajasa had said.
The development of the project was continued under the present government of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi). After all, the Jokowi government is launching the development of dozens of Special Economic Zones (KEKs) in various parts of the country to spur the peoples local economy and improve their welfare.
The government is developing eight special economic zones (KEK) in various parts of the country and will later open seven additional zones to drive economic activities and help boost economic growth.
One of the KEKs is the Mandalika zone which is also being developed as an international tourist resort.
In order to accelerate the development of economic zones, the Capital Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) began promoting the development of integrated investment license service systems in the KEK area.
BKPM will cooperate with KEK administrators, local governments in provinces and districts to assure the availability of standard operational procedures (SOP) within the KEK zones, BKPM Chief Franky Sibarani said last June.
The KEK played a strategic role as a center of economic growth and absorption of workers, he added. Efforts are needed to expedite the licensing process so that investors would be attracted to invest in the KEK zones.
The BKPM chief cited the Mandalika KEK area as an example in West Nusa Tenggara which is able to offer jobs to 58,000 direct workers and 200,000 indirect workers during its construction period.
The efforts to integrate the licensing services in the KEK are made as part of the One-Stop Service (PTSP) system between the central and regional governments being launched by the BKPM, he stated.
Therefore, Vice President Jusuf Kalla asked for the acceleration of the development of the Mandalika resort and economic zone so that the local people will soon enjoy its benefits.
The central government is ready to support the development of the Mandalika KEK through PT ITDC, a state-owned company under the Ministry of State-owned Enterprises (BUMN), he said.
"I want the development of the Mandalika KEK and resort area to be expedited. Sometime in the past, we faced three main problems, namely water supply, electricity and airport. That time, the airport was still in Mataram (NTB provincial capital). We need over one hour to reach Mandalika. But now, we can count it in several minutes only to arrive at Mandalika (as airport is already available)," the Vice President said.
The government will continue to develop the Mandalika area for it to become one of the countrys main tourist destinations comparable to the international tourist resort province of Bali and the Komodo Island, he said.
"Now, Mandalika has become more complete. After all, the development of this resort has been planned for 25 years," Jusuf Kalla stated during his inspection of the Mandalika Resort.
The tourist resorts in many parts of the country should be able to attract foreign tourists, he said. For this, they should have many innovations in their development so that they would remain attractive to tourists and invite more investment.
"The easiest effort to attract investment is by developing the tourism business because the capital needed for that purpose is not too big," the Vice President said during an Indonesia Attractiveness Award 2015 event in Jakarta recently.