Tue, 25 Jan 2000

Shopping centers urged to help small businesses

JAKARTA (JP): Owners of shopping centers should help the development of small businesses in the city by providing space for small-scale businesspeople, a councilor said on Monday.

"Shopping center owners should each contribute 20 percent of their effective retail space for small-scale businesspeople," chairman of the city council's Commission B for economic affairs, M. Syarif Zulkarnaen, said.

"The move is intended to strengthen small-scale businesses by providing opportunities to vendors."

The councilor was speaking during a meeting between members of the commission and the owner of Mal Kelapa Gading in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.

The call to provide space for small-scale businesspeople is regulated in Gubernatorial Decree No. 55/1999. The decree replaces a similar 1992 regulation.

"If the owners do not have enough space to spare for the vendors, they should pay compensation which is equal to the space that should be provided to them.

"Compensation is Rp 400,000 (US$ 547) per square meter," Syarif, also a councilor of the United Development Party (PPP) faction, said.

"The city administration will then use the compensation funds to finance a development project for small-scale businesspeople," he added.

Councilor Dani Anwar of the Justice Party (PK) faction told The Jakarta Post that a visit to shopping centers was to check whether malls and shopping center owners had complied with the regulation.

"We have to check it out ourselves, otherwise, the owners will not pay any attention to the decree," he said.

Dani also questioned the whereabouts of compensation which had been collected, and was estimated at some Rp 5 billion.

"Did all the money really go to suitable projects or not?" he asked.

Sunardi, the president of Summarecon, which develops Mal Kelapa Gading, said the company was to provide some 6,400 square meters of its 32,000 square meters retail space.

"Unfortunately, we failed to construct the required space due to the prolonged monetary crisis," he said, while pledging his willingness to meet their responsibility.

He said he had built temporary shelters for food vendors at the south and east wing of the mall out of good will.

"At least, that's what we can do as our responsibility," he added. "The proposed space itself is located on the third floor of the mall's parking building."

Councilors said the proposed retail space would not attract customers as it was not situated in the main building.

Sunardi said that most vendors rejected the plan to relocate them to the mall's rooftop. "Most vendors prefer to keep operating in their current place."

He proposed another plan to develop a separate location for the vendors on the city's plot north of the mall. "We will finance its construction as part of our obligation."

However, most councilors demanded the space be provided within or at least nearby the mall.

"This (the proximity) is important to give better business opportunities to small-scale businesspeople," councilor Muhammad Agus Darmawan of the National Mandate Party (PAN) faction told the Post.

Agus said commission members agreed to promote the gubernatorial decree into a more powerful city bylaw.

"We will soon deliberate the draft bylaw draft on space provision for small-scale businesspeople," he said. (05)