EDB chief in Jakarta for talks

ECONOMIC Development Board (EDB) chairman Philip Yeo is on a two-day working visit to Jakarta to foster closer bilateral economic ties with Indonesia.

He held back-to-back meetings yesterday with several ministers, who sought ways to increase economic cooperation, officials attending the talks said.

Among those he met were Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Finance Kwik Kian Gie, Finance Minister Bambang Sudibyo and Regional Autonomy Minister Ryaas Rashid. He was expected to hold talks today with Mines and Energy Minister Bambang Yudhoyono and Investment Minister Laksamana Sukardi before returning to Singapore.

Mr Kwik told reporters after an hour-long meeting with Mr Yeo that the two countries would continue to enhance cooperation in Batam and the Riau islands.

Other areas were also being explored, he noted. These included working together on projects managed by debt-ridden firms under the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (Ibra).

He said the EDB, Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and private sector companies, for example, could “pick up” projects that could help firms under Ibra purview make “a turnaround”.

The Indonesians had also asked Singapore to consider working with the state-owned but financially strapped aircraft manufacturer, PT IPTN.

“Of course we don’t expect Singapore to produce aircraft,” said Mr Kwik. “But we are hoping they will make use of IPTN as a servicing company.”

Asked to comment on President Abdurrahman Wahid’s suggestion earlier this month to create a free trade zone in Batam, he said that the prospect of this happening was “great”.

But there were some worries for Jakarta.

“If there is a free trade zone, there are bigger possibilities for smuggling,” he said. “We are studying the costs and benefits involved.”

The new government has been working hard to draw investments and has succeeded somewhat in getting foreign countries to put their money into Indonesia.

In Manila on Sunday, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said that Singapore could be a catalyst in getting a flow of investments back to Indonesia.


SOME issues discussed during Economic Development Board chairman Philip Yeo’s visit to Jakarta are:

  • Singapore and Indonesia will continue to enhance cooperation in Batam and the Riau islands.
  • Indonesians hope Singapore investors will look into working on projects to help turn around debt-ridden firms under the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (Ibra).
  • Singapore has been asked to consider working with the state-owned but financially-strapped aircraft manufacturer, PT IPTN.
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