Oil-rich Riau sets sights on more investors

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

To attract more investors, the Riau administration will put 25 projects, with a total value of Rp 24 trillion (US$2.53 billion), on the table during the Riau Investment Summit 2007 (RIS) in the provincial capital, Pekanbaru, on Nov. 7-8.

At the summit, which is being supported by the Foreign Ministry, the administration will invite both overseas and domestic investors to put their money into a range of projects, including tollways, energy and public facilities, industrial estates, tourist resorts and agribusiness ventures.

"Our preparations for the Riau Summit are 80 percent complete, and, God willing, we are ready to welcome both domestic and foreign investors to Pekanbaru," Governor Rusli Zainal said, adding that investors from Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, France and Ireland had confirmed their attendance at the summit.

Often referred to as the "oil province", Riau accounts for nearly 60 percent of the country's petroleum production, making it one of the richest provinces in the country with a per capita income of $15,000, more than ten times the national average.

Riau is also home to the world's three largest crude palm oil (CPO) producers and the two largest pulp and paper producers. According to the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM)'s 2006 annual report, Riau's total foreign investment amounted to $1.8 billion, making it the country's second largest location for foreign investment.

Also, Riau was the third largest destination for domestic investment on approximately $2.3 billion.

In creating a more favorable climate for investment in the province, Zainal Rusli said that the administration had introduced a number of pioneering measures, including the establishment of a special committee to tackle bureaucratic problems and the revoking of a number of ordinances considered detrimental to investment.

"We established a one-roof investment service in early 2005, supported by the regencies/municipalities and the provincial administration in providing investment recommendations and facilitating the licensing process," Zainal said.

He added that the provincial administration would also assist investors to acquire land for investment projects.

Tiolina Pangaribuan, the director of the Riau Promotion and Investment Board, said that based on the province's 2006 ordinance on the one-stop services office, investors received an investment guidebook specifying the processes involved, the fees charged and how long it took to issue permits.

Under the ordinance, the minimum period for the issuance of a permit is two days and the maximum 14 after a completed application has been received.

Zainal added that a complaints board had also been set up to tackle issues damaging the investment climate, such as licensing obstacles, red tape, thuggery and illegal levies.

For his part, Tiolina said the administration had revoked 12 ordinances, as recommended by the board. (09)

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