President talks with Singapore PM on special economic zone

Hanoi (Antara News) - Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Ecconomic Cooperation (APEC) forum here on Saturday to discuss matters relating to the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) covering Batam, Karimun and Bintan islands.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Boediono told the press here the Indonesia-Singapore Joint Steering Committee for the Special Economic Zone at the meeting officially reported developments in the SEZ`s implementation to Yudhoyono and Lee.

Boediono said the report was not different from that presented at the Joint Steering Committee meeting between Indonesia and Singapore in Jakarta two weeks ago.

"What we reported to Yudhoyono and Lee was more or less similar to what we reported at the meeting two weeks ago," Boediono said, adding that the Yudhoyono-Lee meeting in Hanoi had been planned since last September.

Meanwhile, Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) chief M Lutfi said since the signing of the agreement to develop Batam, Bintan and Karimun islands in June, some 37 projects with a total investment of US$90 million absorbing 10,750 workers had been set up.

Commenting on the need for a legal umbrella for the Free Economic Zone, Minister/State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra said the government was at present preparing a relevant government regulation in lieu of law (Perpu).

"We are preparing a Perpu that will be the legal basis for the Special Economic Zone and we will also try to discuss it with the House of Representatives (DPR)," Yusril said.

He said the meeting between President Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Lee focused on the Special Economic Zone while the extradition agreement issue did not arise.

Yusril admitted that although the Singaporean government had shown good will and agreed to hold talks about conclusion of an extradition agreement , there had been no meaningful progress in the talks.

"Prime Minister Lee showed good will about having an extradition agreement and relevant talks have been held since I was justice and human rights minister but there has been no significant progress in the talks," Yusril said.(*)
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