Thu, 17 Jul 2003

Rini opens second RI sugar plant

Evi Mariani, The Jakarta Post, Serang, Banten

The country's second sugar plant, producing double-refined sugar for the food and beverage industry, was opened on Tuesday, and will lessen the country's dependency on imports.

Minister of Industry and Trade Rini Soewandi, who officially opened the sugar plant at PT Jawamanis Rafinasi, said that the Indonesian food and beverage industry mostly met its double- refined sugar needs from imports.

"If we produce refined sugar by ourselves, we create added value for the state as well as open up (new) employment opportunities for the public," she said. "Therefore, I hope other (new) refined sugar plants will become established in the country."

According to government data, the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries now require about 700,000 tons of double-refined sugar per year. The demand is growing at a rate of about 10 percent to 12 percent per year.

Previously, PT Bermis Madusejahtera was the only double- refined sugar plant here, with a production capacity of 100,000 tons. Jawanis is expected to be able also to produce about 100,000 tons per year, boosting national output to 200,000 tons. The remaining 500,000 tons will still need to be imported.

Jawamanis is more than 80 percent-owned by foreign investors from Singapore, Hong Kong, Bermuda, the UK, Malaysia, Germany and Japan, said company president Amiruddin Yusuf.

"All the investors, including the domestic ones, are those with long experience in the sugar industry," he said. "No single investor has a dominant share in this company: Each holds around 10 percent of the shares."

"The total investment for this plant amounts to US$18 million," he said. "If everything goes well, we hope to reach breakeven point in three years."

The plant, whose full production capacity is 163,200 tons per year, will absorb 500 jobs, 80 percent of them local Serang people.

Jawamanis chose Serang, Banten province, because the company considered it to be a strategic location.

"Serang has a port with an ability to take ships of 50,000 (dead weight) tons. We think the toll road provides adequate access for us to transport our sugar to clients in Jakarta," he said.

So far, 40 food and beverages companies have appointed Jawamanis as their supplier. Among them are Nestle and popular soft drinks company Coca Cola.

Jawamanis will import its raw sugar from Australia, Brazil, Thailand and South Africa. Last year, the country imported about 700,000 tons of white sugar, some of which was also used to produce sugar for household consumption.

The country's households and industry consume 3.5 million tons of sugar per year.