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Jakarta Post

Govt raises foreign ownership limit

  • Satria Sambijantoro

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, December 26, 2013   /  10:42 am
Govt raises foreign ownership limit Foreign ownership: Local residents are given the chance to visit the Kuala Namu International Airport in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra before the inauguration of the newly built airport on July 25, 2013. A new government regulation allows foreigners to own as much as 49 percent of airports and 100 percent of power plants built under public-private partnerships. (JP/Apriadi Gunawan) (JP/Apriadi Gunawan)

Foreign ownership: Local residents are given the chance to visit the Kuala Namu International Airport in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra before the inauguration of the newly built airport on July 25, 2013. A new government regulation allows foreigners to own as much as 49 percent of airports and 100 percent of power plants built under public-private partnerships. (JP/Apriadi Gunawan)

After years of debate, the government has finally completed the revision of the negative investments list (DNI) and raised the level of foreign ownership in a number of business sectors including transportation terminals, seaports and power plants.

Under the new DNI, which is expected to be signed soon by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the maximum limit on foreign ownership in land transportation facilities such as bus terminals and train stations will be set at 49 percent, up from the previous zero, Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) chairman Mahendra Siregar told reporters on Tuesday.

With the new regulation, foreigners can now own up to 100 percent of power plants built under public-private partnerships (PPPs), on the condition that the power plants have the capacity of at least 10 megawatts (MW). For power plants with capacities up to 10 MW, foreign ownership is limited to 49 percent.

'€œFor these PPP projects, we should have greater openness for foreigners because we really have a pressing need to develop our infrastructure,'€ Mahendra said.

The new DNI would also allow foreign investors to own up to 95 percent of shares in the management of toll roads and water utilities '€” relatively unchanged, but it was necessary to include the rule to provide legal certainty for foreign investors, he said.

However, the foreign ownership cap in airports, which had initially been expected to be relaxed to 100 percent, had to be set at 49 percent due to the conflicting Transportation Law that stipulates local investors must still be the majority shareholders in such businesses, according to the BKPM chief.

Meanwhile, the foreign ownership cap in the pharmaceutical industry will be raised to 85 percent from the current 75 percent; in the venture-capital financial sector it will be raised to 85 percent from 80 percent; while in the advertising sector it will be raised to 49 percent from zero, specifically for ASEAN investors.

The DNI liberalization, however, was also complemented by tighter restrictions on foreign ownership in sectors such as farming and logistics, as the government aims to safeguard local firms from the influx of foreign competition.

In the farming sector, maximum foreign ownership will be capped at 30 percent from the existing 95 percent, while in the distribution and storage industry it will be set at 33 percent.

'€œThe guidance of the President in the Cabinet meeting held on Nov. 14, 2013, in which we all concurred, was that [the DNI revision] must prioritize national interests to boost the competitiveness of local industries,'€ Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa said.

Revision of the DNI was necessary to lure more foreign direct investment (FDI), the growth of which has decelerated to a three-year low, economists have said. More FDI will also be needed to strengthen the country'€™s capital account, which is likely to face pressure due to limited portfolio inflows amid the prevailing global uncertainty in 2014.

However, the plan to revise the DNI, which had been on the table since 2010, was met with opposition due to growing nationalistic sentiments ahead of next year'€™s elections, with critics calling on the government to safeguard Indonesia'€™s strategic sectors from the influx of foreign competitors.

Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) chairman Sofjan Wanandi said that local businesses were '€œquite satisfied'€ with the new DNI, which he argued was a win-win solution for both foreign and local investors.

'€œI believe this will improve our investment climate ahead of the upcoming political year,'€ he said. '€œThe DNI will provide certainty for them [foreign investors], so that they will not be hesitant about investing here.'€

The new negative list of investments (DNI)

1. Sectors that are more open to foreign investment

'€¢ Land transportation facilities (new foreign ownership cap 49 percent from zero)
'€¢ Regular vehicle inspection (49 percent from zero)
'€¢ Pharmaceutical (85 percent from 75 percent)
'€¢ Venture capital financing (85 percent from 80 percent)

2. Sectors that are more restricted to foreign investment

'€¢ Distribution (33 percent, from 100 percent)
'€¢ Storage (33 percent, from 100 percent)
'€¢ Cold storage (Sumatra, Java, Bali maximum 33 percent, for Kalimantan, Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku and Papua maximum 67 percent, from 100 percent)     

3. New regulation for telecommunication sector

'€¢ Fixed telecommunications (65 percent, previously unregulated)
'€¢ Multimedia-integrated telecommunication network (65 percent, previously unregulated)
'€¢ Multimedia service provider (49 percent, previously unregulated)

4. Public-private partnerships (PPP) project

'€¢ Airports (49 percent under concession period)
'€¢ Seaports (95 percent)
'€¢ Land transportation terminals (49 percent)
'€¢ Water utilities (95 percent)
'€¢ Toll road facilities (95 percent)
'€¢ Power plants (49 percent for 1-10 megawatt capacity, 100 percent for capacity of 10 megawatts above)
'€¢ Electricity transmission (100 percent)
'€¢ Electricity distribution (100 percent)

5. Sectors that are adjusted according to the new law

 '€¢ Farming (30 percent from previously 95 percent, adjusted according to the 2010 Law on horticulture)

Source: BKPM

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