President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo visits South Korea on Monday. (Photo courtesy of the Cabinet Secretary)

Jokowi Introduces His Investment Point Man to South Korean Chief Executives


NOVEMBER 25, 2019

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo sat for lunch with South Korea's most powerful chief executives in Seoul on Monday, introducing his latest economic team and showcasing some quick wins it has made in an effort to woo more South Korean investment to Indonesia.

Jokowi has made it clear since his inauguration that his top priority in government now is to attract new investment to the country.  

The president told the South Koreans that the new head of the Investment Coordinating Board, Bahlil Lahadalia, is his point man to discuss any problems with investment in Indonesia.

Bahlil builds his plantation and contracting business in resource-rich Papua, one of Indonesia's poorest provinces. He barely speaks English, unlike most of his predecessors who came with Ivy League credentials.

But in Bahlil, the president saw a street-smart hustler who has the knack to work efficiently with local administrators and coordinate with government institutions, often the pain points in getting any investment plan to take off.     

Jokowi mentioned the example of how Bahlil, in less than a month after he took office, had managed to solve land acquisition problems for the Korean-Japanese Lotte Group's $3.5 billion petrochemical plant in Cilegon, West Java. 

"If there are other problems, please tell Mr. Bahlil," Jokowi said in a meeting at the Lotte Hotel in Busan, according to a statement from the Cabinet Secretary.

The president also promised that Indonesia would soon embark on a massive reform effort to simplify its bureaucracy and regulations. 

The government is planning to cull 70 to 74 laws simultaneously through an omnibus law

"Our bureaucracy is getting simpler, decisions can be made faster. We will cut down echelon three and echelon four in our bureaucracy," Jokowi said, referring to mid-tier administrators. 

The president also explained Indonesia's plan to move its capital to East Kalimantan. Jokowi said the as yet unnamed new capital will be a smart, green, safe, inclusive and resilient city.

"We are open for cooperation in this project. Let me reiterate that I want to strengthen economic, trade and investment cooperations between Indonesia and South Korea," Jokowi said.

Accompanying the president to South Korea were the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto, Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, Housing and Public Works Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, State Secretary Pratikno and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir.