Tue, 09 May 2000

Government, military to ensure security for investors

JAKARTA (JP): The Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Military have agreed to work together to create a conducive and safe environment for businesses operating in the country, according to Minister of Industry and Trade Luhut Pandjaitan.

Luhut said on Monday that this was also part of efforts to boost the country's exports.

"The TNI (Indonesian Military) commander has agreed and will launch measures at his disposal, together with the Indonesian Police, to help ensure security to boost our exports," he told reporters after a meeting with TNI Commander Adm. Widodo AS.

Luhut said that eight of the Indonesian major business associations, including the Indonesian Textile Association (API) and the Association of Indonesian Wood Panel Producers (Apkindo), had complained to him about the domestic security situation.

"I demand moral support from TNI and the police to be able to work together with the people to provide security for investors," said the newly appointed minister, who is still an active Army lieutenant general.

Luhut, who was appointed last month to replace Jusuf Kalla, is also still the Indonesia Ambassador to Singapore.

Luhut has said that his current top priority was to boost exports to help drive the country out of the more than two-year economic crisis.

He had also been involved in intensive talks with various government institutions, including the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) and state banks, to immediately resume lending to the real sector.

Social unrest and rioting have gripped several parts of Indonesia since the country plunged into its deepest economic crisis in three decades, and as Indonesia transforms into a more democratic society.

Many companies have complained of rampant lootings, and the taking over of land by local people, particularly after the downfall of the former regime of Soeharto and his hand-picked successor B.J. Habibie.

This problem has deterred businesses, including exporters, from making new investments.

Mining companies and oil and gas operations have also faced similar problems.

The gold mining giant PT Kelian Equatorial Mining (KEM) in East Kalimantan reportedly had no choice other than to close down its operation as local people blockaded the road toward the mining site, leading to the mining operation being unable to procure necessary supplies.

The protesting villagers have that demanded KEM pay compensation for their land which they claim was acquired by the company.

Oil and gas company PT Mobil Oil Indonesia, in the troubled Aceh province, has been attacked with explosives, although so far no serious fatalities have occurred.

Luhut stressed that the government's efforts to provide security for investment could not be effective without the active participation of the people.

"If we all want this nation to be better, we need to work together to create a conducive environment to recover the economy. Please don't ruin the good steps already taken by the reform movement," he said.

Luhut said that his discussions with TNI also focussed on the rampant smuggling of natural resources out of the country, including fuel, timber and sand.

There have been allegations that the certain people in the military have been involved in the crimes. (rei)