Jakarta. With economic opportunity knocking on Indonesia’s doors, the freshly formed board of the country’s chamber of commerce has called on the government to provide greater incentives for businesses and a stimulus package to help the nation achieve double-digit growth by 2014.

Suryo Bambang Sulisto, the new chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said on Thursday that business-friendly policies were needed to boost Indonesian companies, which were facing stiff competition from foreign firms.

“Next year’s economic challenge will be tough,” Suryo said. “The new executive board will discuss with the government the stimulus package that the business world needs in order to reach double-digit growth by 2014.”

Comprising some of the country’s most powerful businessmen, Kadin’s newly inaugurated executive board also said it was keen to work closely with the government to boost growth.

Suryo added that in the next five to 10 years, the Western economies that had powered the world economy and served as the main export destinations for Indonesia would suffer more economic slowdowns.

Indonesia therefore needed to find new markets for its goods if the economy was to continue to expand.

The country, he added, should focus on its competitive advantages, including its big population, rich natural resources and ample agricultural land.

“Indonesia’s economy is gridlocked. This means that if we experience an economic decline, the impact would be severe,” he said. “But the economy cannot grow faster because it is lagging in infrastructure.”

Indonesia has been one of the fastest growing economies in the region this year and escaped relatively unscathed from the global economic downturn in 2008, but lack of infrastructure and excessive red tape has stunted growth.

The economy is expected to achieve 6 percent growth in gross domestic product this year.

Kadin’s call has been heeded by the government, with the coordinating minister for the economy, Hatta Rajasa, saying the chamber will play an important role in helping boost per capita income to $5,500, from $3,300 now, over the next few years.

“The government sees Kadin as a strategic partner,” he said. “We will facilitate a quarterly meeting to improve policy coordination and formulation.”

James Riady, Kadin’s deputy chairman for manpower, education and health, said that over the next five years, significant investment should go into improving education and health so that they meet international standards and be affordable at the same time.

“Only 2 percent of the population can afford to study at university,” he said, “so building more universities, especially in eastern Indonesia, will be crucial.”

Riady is deputy chairman of the Lippo Group, which is affiliated with the Jakarta Globe.

Zulkarnain Arief, Kadin’s deputy chairman for infrastructure, construction and property, also called for the government to spend more on infrastructure, which would help create jobs.

“Construction companies are struggling with stiff competition and soaring raw material prices,” he said. “The government must provide us with stimuli, even if it means increasing its budget deficit — as long as the industry grows.”

Kadin on Thursday also announced its new board members, including prominent businessmen like Emirsyah Satar, president director of flag carrier Garuda Indonesia; Rosan P. Roeslani, president director of Recapital Advisers; and Peter F. Gontha, president commissioner at First Media.

A surprise addition to the committee was Edhie Baskoro, also known as Ibas, the 28-year-old lawmaker son of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Edhie was elected as Kadin’s deputy chairman for international promotion, tourism and culture.

“Ibas was elected based on his experience at the House of Representative’s Commission I, overseeing defense and foreign affairs,” Suryo said.

“He may be young, but Kadin needs to start regenerating.”


Sumber: The Jakarta Globe