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Megawati pledges better climate for investors JAKARTA - President Megawati Sukarnoputri on Thursday kicked off the Indonesia Investment Year 2003 programme, promising to establish a better climate for foreign investors willing to take the plunge and put some money into the country.
Despite the hard sell, analysts and investors said the world's fourth largest nation is still far away from shedding its 'high-risk profile' and would need to make a number of major changes before it can make its way back onto investors' maps. Ms Megawati told foreign investors: 'We really need (investors') presence - not just to improve the economy, but also to create jobs.'
With annual economic growth languishing at between 3 and 4 per cent, Indonesia needs major boosts from foreign investors in order to provide enough jobs and reduce unemployment, which has been estimated at around 40 million people.
The President added: 'We need to keep improving our economic basics to create a good investment climate.' Beyond Ms Megawati's pledges, the government has set up a National Investment Protection team to troubleshoot issues faced by investors who are already on the ground.
Another facet of the programme involves getting Indonesia's regional governments, which since 2001 have enjoyed more economic and political control over their respective areas, to be more active when it comes to drumming up business. Ms Megawati's pitch comes at a troubling time for her country and as her critics begin to focus their attention on her government's relative lack of progress in turning the economy around.
Foreign project approvals dropped sharply to around US$9 billion (S$15.6 billion) last year, compared to over US$15 billion the year before. More importantly, it is believed only between 10 and 20 per cent of approved investments have actually been realised each year since 1997.
A common complaint expressed by investors familiar with the country is how the risks have become higher since the end of the Suharto era, when corruption and the iron hand of the first family ensured stability and the interests of businesses.
A number of experts praised Indonesia's efforts to attract more foreign cash. But even those who worked for the government were 'realistic' about Indonesia's chances. They know investors want to see some progress in order to be convinced. 'We are putting out fires. There are people who want to come in here, but getting them to actually invest is a difficult process,' said a top adviser.



Posted in Economy @ 02 March 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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