Jakarta. Indonesia’s private sector has welcomed this month’s 24th World Economic Forum as an opportunity to claim a larger voice in the regional and global community.
Underlying Indonesia’s growing influence in the regional economy, Jakarta will host the 24th World Economic Forum on East Asia (WEF-EA) from April 19 to 21 at the Shangri-La Hotel.
Government officials and senior figures from various industries of the private sectors will converge on the city to meet and exchange ideas. This year will be the second time Indonesia has played host to WEF-EA.
“This event will showcase Indonesia as the home of large corporate organizations, supported by many business groups, although government remains the key,” says Bank Mandiri chief economist Destry Damayanti. She has been actively involved in preparations for the event alongside the bank’s chief executive, Budi Sadikin Gunadi, who is also a WEF co-chair.
There are four co-chairs for the forum, including John Riady, executive director of Lippo Group, one of the biggest conglomerates in Indonesia.
William Lacy Swing, director general of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) from Geneva and Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairwoman of SM Investment Corporations from the Philippines will also chair the event. Destry says she believes the WEF will act as a stage for Indonesia to make its claim to a bigger voice in the regional and global community.
Large business groups, such as Sinar Mas and the Lippo Group, will not only sponsor the event but also share thoughts on issues as varied as food security and Indonesia’s rising store of talent.
Destry says she believes the WEF will help Indonesia improve what she calls the country’s image problem. She recalls meeting an executive from an investment bank in Qatar at the Institute of International Finance in Washington.
He was critical of Indonesia’s renewed use of the death penalty and alarmed that some Indonesians had gone to join the Islamic State militant group.
“Indonesia needs a strong spokesperson or institution to help counter these issues, and all parties have to stand hand-in-hand to respond to this situation,” Destry says.
The previous event hosted by Indonesia was supported largely by the government through the Trade Ministry but it is now time to give the private sector more chance to speak out about Indonesia, she says.
“The presence of Bank Mandiri’s chief executive Budi Gunadi Sadikin and John Riady of Lippo Group, for example, as co-chairs of the WEF creates a positive impact for Indonesia,” she says.
The WEF-EA will facilitate dialogue about the region’s trade, tourism, financial inclusion, investment strategy, infrastructure development, health and regional connectivity.
Bachrul Chairi, the director general for international trade cooperation at the Indonesian Trade Ministry, says the government will take the opportunity to introduce new policies.
“There will be 16 ministerial-level officials [from Indonesia] invited to discuss Indonesia’s policies and talks about the opportunities that lie ahead,” Bachrul says.
He adds that President Joko Widodo’s administration needs to work closely with foreign investors to realize the government’s development plans over the next five years.
GlobeAsia and the Jakarta Globe are affiliated with Lippo Group.