Papua businesses call for bigger role

Papua businesses call for bigger role
, 24 July 2010

Papuan businesspeople are calling for more involvement in projects in the province, saying they wanted to be active participants instead of outsiders.

Radya Wanggai from the Papua branch of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) said that whenever a project was underway in Papua, local businesspeople were rarely involved.

He urged investors to work with local businesspeople, many of who were not involved in large projects due to limited resources.

"We have big dreams that someday Papuan businesspeople will own their own businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, air transport and others. We need a breakthrough to take the leap," Radya said.

He said that currently, many Papuans only worked on projects financed by the province.

Larger projects funded by the state, however, were being undertaken by businesspeople from outside Papua, he added.

The call was made during a meeting between Suryo Bambang Sulisto, who is running for Kadin's top post, and the chamber's members in Papua at a hotel in Jayapura on Thursday night.

Kadin is scheduled to hold a vote to chose a new leader to replace MS Hidayat as chairman no later than Aug. 24. Hidayat stepped down as he currently holds the post of industry minister.

At the meeting, Suryo promised that if elected, he would empower Papuan businesspeople and involve them in large projects in the province.

"Papua has a wealth of natural resources. Many foreign investors are interested in investing here, but I believe the local business people should play a larger role," he said.

Suryo is the president commissioner of coal mining firm PT Bumi Resources, the crown jewel of the Bakrie and Brothers group, a holding company led by the family of Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie.

Suryo also promised to improve the Papuan business scene by lobbying the central government to improve infrastructure to support business activities in the province.

The chairman of the Papua branch of Kadin, John Kabey, expressed support for Suryo's candidacy, raising hopes that he would help Papua businesspeople by making breakthroughs.

Apart from Suryo, other candidates running for Kadin's top post include Sandiaga Uno, the managing director of private equity firm Saratoga Capital and former leader of the Indonesian Young Entrepreneurs Association (Hipmi).

Other candidate is Golkar stalwart Syarif C. Sutardjo, a Kadin veteran and the owner of Ario Bimo group, a holding company with interests in property, palm oil and mining.

Also running is Chris Kanter, the president director of shipping and forwarding company PT KN Sigma Trans. He is currently Kadin's deputy chairman for investment and communications.