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Indonesian president hails 'prime investment destination'

Indonesia represents a prime investment destination, not only for regional organisations, but also from an international perspective, according to the country's president.

Delivering his first speech as Indonesian leader at the annual Pacific Rim economic forum, Joko Widodo told business leaders that his country is an ideal investment destination, and made a number of promises that will make the area even more attractive in the months and years ahead.

"I'm very happy to be among with you, because you know I was a businessman many years ago. So this morning I am very happy because we can talk about business, about investment with all of you," he explained.

Immediate measures

From an internal perspective, he pledged to slash fuel subsidies that have hampered the Indonesian government’s ability to spend on new construction developments; at the moment, $27 billion a year is spent on limiting fuel prices, and Mr Widodo is keen to channel this into "productive activity" - namely creating new commercial and public developments that will benefit the population and visitors to the country alike.

The savings would be used to build much-needed buildings across the country, which would not only help to bolster transport routes, but also help to stabilise the nation's industrial and business backbone, in addition to improving the livelihoods of the population, of which there are 250 million people across more than 17,000 islands.

In his address, the president repeatedly used the phrase "this is your opportunity", and emphasised that domestic and international firms alike will have the chance to either spearhead new initiatives, or help to bolster and accelerate existing ones.

Redirecting finance

Mr Widodo said he intends for his comments to underscore his intention to tackle some of the legacy issues left over from the 30-year rule of former President Suharto, which left a significant drain on fiscal resources; something he hopes to address by redirecting finance toward improving the nation's buildings and infrastructure.

Although he acknowledged he faces constraints in freeing up the budget for development if the fuel subsidies are not addressed, Mr Widodo said that many perceived problems are being tackled.

He added: "Some investors, when they come to me, complain about land acquisition. I will push my ministers, my governors, my mayors, to help clearing this problem."

Mr Widodo pointed to his experience in dealing with land disputes while governor of Jakarta, many related to new construction projects in the Indonesian capital, and reminded his audience of his background in business.

According to the president, Indonesian authorities will do all they can to assist foreign investors in securing business permits in a timely manner, and safeguard the nation's future.


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INDONESIA

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