Govt plans red-carpet treatment for investors

NUSA DUA, Bali (JP): Having steered its new Investment Law through parliament, the government's next step will be to lay out the red carpet for local and international investors by easing the bureaucratic obstacles to doing business in Indonesia.

"We want to convert the red tape into a red carpet," Muhammad Lutfi, chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), told the Indonesia-Australia Business Conference on Tuesday.

The board is now working to slash the number of days needed to satisfy bureaucratic requirements in areas like starting a business, securing licenses, registering property, paying taxes, trading across borders, exporting, importing and enforcing contracts, Lutfi said.

He recognized that Indonesia was trailing behind its neighbors in attracting foreign direct investment, but said the new Investment Law, enacted in April, along with improvements in BKPM administration, would help redress that.

The former entrepreneur, recruited by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to lead the investment agency, appears to mean business.

"If Indonesia currently ranks 135th in the world in terms of the ease of doing business, we should be in 55th place this time next year," he said, qualifying his statement, however, by saying that this was provided that other countries did nothing to improve their own investment climates.

That could be a dangerous assumption given the fierce competition among Asian countries to attract foreign direct investment. China has been taking the lion's share, followed by India, and other Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
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