Indonesian govt is pro-business : Jusuf

Indonesian VP says it is ready to go the extra mile to help firms investing there.

INDONESIAN Vice-President Jusuf Kalla took on the role of salesman yesterday in a bid to lure more Singapore investors to his country.

He assured 300 businessmen at a forum in Singapore that the Indonesian government today is ‘pro-business’ and ready to go the extra mile to help them.

‘Several members of the Cabinet, including myself, are businessmen,’ he pointed out. ‘We are here to listen to your concerns. We understand you better because we are businessmen.’

He told them that Jakarta is keen to attract investment not just in the capital and Batam, but also in other regions.

Singapore companies should not just invest in existing assets but consider new business opportunities that would create jobs in Indonesia, he said.

‘This will be good for the long-term relationship between Singapore and Indonesia,’ he said.

With the emergence of China and India as economic powers, Asean countries need to work closer together with Indonesia acting as ‘a big anchor’, he said.

‘We should grow together based on our complementary strengths.’

Despite his upbeat remarks, participants raised several concerns about setting up in Indonesia. These ranged from corruption and labour issues to taxes and visa application problems.

Of his government’s fight against corruption since taking office last October, Mr Jusuf said: ‘We can’t root out the problem in Indonesia immediately. But there is a difference compared to the situation two or three years ago.

‘Today, when you read the newspapers, you will find governors or senior officials in the regions implicated for corruption and jailed. This is progress. We are very serious about fighting corruption.’

For all the concerns raised, Mr Jusuf sought to assure investors that Jakarta is doing its best to address these problems.

The forum was organised by the International Enterprise Singapore and Indonesia Network.

Mr Jusuf is here on a two-day visit at the invitation of Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

The vice-president held talks yesterday with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

PM Lee’s press secretary described the PM’s meeting with Mr Jusuf as warm.

The two leaders discussed the ongoing reconstruction efforts in Aceh as well as Indonesia’s economic prospects.

Both shared the desire to see closer ties between Singapore and Indonesia. They discussed the possibility of closer bilateral cooperation in tourism and civil aviation as well as trade and investments.

Mr Jusuf and his wife Mufidah Jusuf called on PM Lee and Mrs Lee yesterday afternoon.

The vice-president and his 19-member delegation leave for Malaysia today.

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