Jokowi Optimistic about Growth and Foreign Investment

President Jokowi delivers a keynote speech at a business conference in San Francisco. Photo Today
President Jokowi delivers a keynote speech at a business conference in San Francisco. Photo Today

San Francisco, 10 Jumadal Awwal 1437/19 February (MINA) – President Joko Widodo pledged to further open Indonesia’s economy and draw more foreign ­investment amid signs of an economic recovery.

Delivering the keynote speech at a business conference in San Francisco on Thursday (Feb 18), Mr Widodo said Indonesia’s announcement last week to open up 35 subsectors of its economy to foreign investors for the first time and allow majority foreign stakes in 100 others did not go far enough.

Although it was the most significant liberalisation in a decade, Mr Widodo said: “I’m not satisfied. Please understand that we are still only at the beginning. We will still continue to simplify, continue to open up, continue to modernise our rules and regulations.”

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He then quoted a famous movie line from Hollywood star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in pledging to make processes easier for foreign companies.

“There are still many excessive permits, licenses and restrictions to which we will say, ‘Hasta la vista (farewell), baby’,” he said, drawing ­applause from the audience of 300, comprising mainly American business leaders.

Mr Widodo also painted an optimistic picture of the Indonesian economy, Mi’rajIslamic News Agency (MINA) reported, quoting

“Even as the stock markets in China declined significantly, and stock markets in the US declined, our currency (rupiah) remained stable and our stock market went down by a little bit,” he said, adding that Indonesia achieved 5.04 per cent year-on-year economic growth in 2015 — higher than projections of 4.8 per cent.

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Bank Indonesia Deputy Governor Perry Warjiyo on Thursday said the country’s economic growth may reach 5.4 per cent this year, after the central bank cut its main interest rate 50 basis points in the first two months of 2016.

Indonesia was stung early last year by the falling rupiah and its lowest economic growth since 2009, but the President reshuffled his Cabinet in August, appointing more technocrats to turn the situation around.

The Indonesian President has also carried out a series of reforms, introducing large-scale deregulation and new plans to fast-track licensing for crucial infrastructure projects.

Foreign direct investment began to pick up in the fourth quarter of last year, after stagnating in 2014.

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Despite the various reforms, Mr Widodo is intent on doing more. “Our investor environment is still not conducive enough. We still need to deregulate more,” he said at the conference, organised by the US-ASEAN Business Council.   (R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)