Kadin wants changes to investment blacklist

Andi Haswidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) may look for a review of the newly signed presidential decree on sectors prohibited to foreign investment.

"We want to set things in perspective and correct a few errors so that the decree will be capable of being successfully applied," Kadin chairman Muhammad S. Hidayat told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Hidayat said Kadin would assemble a meeting next Wednesday that would be attended by all of its business-sector divisions and foreign chamber representatives to seek their views on the new list.

President Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed the much anticipated investment list Monday, which provides a more comprehensive description of the business sectors that will be open or closed, either fully or partially, to foreign investors.

The list defines 338 business sectors, of which 69 are open to foreign investment, while 11 have become more restrictive, with the aim being to protect the national interest in areas such as telecommunications, the environment, culture and natural biodiversity.

The sectors that will be opened up more to foreign investment include hospital services, where up to 65 percent of a venture may be foreign owned, nursing and health support services (49 percent), travel agencies (50 percent) and plantations (95 percent).

While agreeing that the list attempted to strike a balance between the need to attract foreign investment and the need to strengthen the national economy, Hidayat said there were a number of changes made by the decree that raised more questions than answers.

"There are several questions that need to be answered, such as what are the criteria for determining the percentage of ownership? Why are there so many different percentages involved?" he said.

"What counts in ownership is decision making. Ownership restrictions should basically focus on allowing majority ownership or not."

Hidayat also said that the logistics sector was still a gray area, with the list categorizing it as part of the services sector.

""According to international practice, logistics belongs to the transportation sector. These two sectors require different treatments. We would suggest that it be included in the transportation sector, considering the size of the business."

Kadin was largely ignored during the drawing up of the list.

"Unlike the (first part of) the tax law package. When it was enacted, Kadin stood behind the house completely as we took part actively in its drafting and were constantly asked for our opinions.

"As for the investment list, we were only given the outlines, which turned out to be far different from the definitive list," he said.

Should the attempt to have the decree revised fail, Kadin hopes to have a say in the drafting of the decree's subordinate regulations, which will put flesh on the bare bones set out in the list.

On Wednesday, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono said that the government would set up a team to regularly assess the list so as to see whether it needed revision.

The list will only come into effect in 2010, and will apply throughout the country, including special economic zones.
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