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Indonesian leader vows 'massive deregulation' to win investment

Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - 15:01
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Indonesia's president on Wednesday promised quick and "massive deregulation" to attract much needed investment in South-east Asia's largest economy.

[JAKARTA] Indonesia's president on Wednesday promised quick and "massive deregulation" to attract much needed investment in South-east Asia's largest economy.

This is the latest move by President Joko Widodo to try to improve investor sentiment about Indonesia, which has soured recently due to slowing domestic consumption, China's downturn and rock-bottom commodity prices.

Over the past few weeks, the president has reshuffled his economic team, announced plans for a new stimulus package and showcased the start of major infrastructure projects, such as a US$4 billion coal-fired power plant.

"We need to carry out massive deregulation and introduce new regulations that will really create a good climate for the economy as soon as possible," Mr Joko said in a cabinet meeting."We are racing against time." After meeting with several business groups earlier this week, the president said more than 100 regulations were identified as being negative for investors.

The president and cabinet ministers plan to review these regulations and decide as early as this week on which ones to eliminate.

Widodo, a former furniture salesman, also promised to work with parliament to tweak laws seen as obstacles to investment. "I want there to be revisions to laws that hinder anything, be it goods, services procurement or the investment climate," he said.

Since taking office last October, the president has constantly sought to reassure investors, going as far as inviting them to call him personally if they run into any problems.

But political infighting, burdensome red-tape and endemic graft have blocked any significant reforms.

Indonesia needs private investment to provide most of the money required to build major infrastructure projects.

The investment board has estimated the country needs 3,518 trillion rupiah (S$352.9 billion) of investment from both domestic and foreign sources to achieve its 7 per cent annual economic growth target.

Growth this year is likely to be less than 5 per cent, the lowest since 2009.

REUTERS