Mon, 24 Apr 2000

IBRA to visit Singapore next month to offer assets

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) will visit Singapore to offer assets early next month as the Singaporean government was set to disburse loan facilities to the city state's businessmen to buy Indonesian assets, Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore Luhut Pandjaitan said on Sunday.

"There will be a one-to-one business meeting (between IBRA and Singaporean businessmen) during the visit. IBRA will offer properties, including hotel and buildings, to the Singaporean businessmen," Pandjaitan said, adding the visit would take place on May 5.

The Singaporean government has pledged US$500 million in loan facilities for the country's businessmen to buy the assets owned by IBRA and another $400 million in guarantee for the country's businessmen who invest in Indonesia.

The pledge, which was announced by Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong during his visit to Indonesia in January this year, aimed at reviving investor confidence in Indonesia which has been most severely battered by the economic crisis in the region.

Pandjaitan said IBRA's visit to Singapore would be followed by a visit by Singaporean investors to Indonesia from May 31 and June 1 to explore possible partnership with Indonesian small and middle sized companies.

"This proves the Singaporean government is serious in providing assistance to Indonesia. It's now up to the local companies whether to actively grab the opportunities," Pandjaitan was quoted by Antara as saying.

Pandjaitan said the Indonesian-Singaporean economic cooperation has steadily recorded progress, but he admitted the social unrests and political struggle have dampened the interest of Singaporean businessmen in Indonesia.

He said he had worked hard to persuade the Indonesian tycoons of Chinese origins, who fled the country with their wealth during the peak of the economic crisis and political turmoil in 1998, to bring back their funds to Indonesia.

But, he said, the efforts did not bear fruit since many of them were still worried about Indonesia's political future.

"Thereby, let's avoid (political) polemic. What we need now is jobs which will revive the economy," he said.

Pandjaitan also denied the allegation that the government's policy to impose value-added taxes and luxury taxes in Batam and neighboring islands Bintan and Karimun had troubled the investment climate in the islands.

He said the Singaporean businessmen's interest in making investment in the islands remained high, citing that Singaporean leading business Jurong Sepiat planned to relocate its production facilities to Karimun in the near future amid controversies over the tax policy.

"The tax policy was made at the request of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Thus, the investors, mainly Japanese investors, should file their protests with the IMF rather than the Indonesian government.

"In fact, the investors also provided funds to IMF. Thus let the investors fight with the IMF," Luhut said.

According to Pandjaitan, Japanese businessmen account for 58 percent of investment in Batam, while Singaporean businessmen 25 percent. (jsk)