When Ministers Compete to Woo Global Investors at the B20 Summit
Attracting more investment projects into the country is a side target for the Indonesian government in its G20 presidency.
The long series of events at the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua, Badung, Bali, has served as moments for the Indonesian government (as this year's event president) to attract investment from global businesses that are part of the countries attending the G20 forum, a venue that represents a group of countries with the largest economies in the world.
A sense of unflinching "persuasion" was explicitly conveyed at almost every opportunity throughout the G20 Summit over the last few days.
For example, during a panel discussion session on the first day of the B20 Summit on Sunday (13/11/2022), three ministers jokingly competed each other to attract the interest of global business persons packing the halls of the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center (BNDCC) in Nusa Dua, Badung, Bali, on Sunday (13/11/2022).
Some 2,000 participants and 1,500 companies from 65 countries are in attendance at the B20 Summit, which is being held on November 13-14, 2022. B20 is part of the G20 forum and serves as a discussion forum for business actors from countries that are members of the G20.
The three competing ministers in question -- Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arifin Tasrif, and Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno -- were speakers at a discussion session with "Aligning the Role of Business with G20 Priorities to Recover Stronger and Recover Together" as its theme.
The invitation to invest in Indonesia was first conveyed by Budi Gunadi. In his presentation, Budi said that the most deadly global threat in the future will no longer be humans, but pathogens. As such, entrepreneurs must wisely allocate their capital to sectors that are important for the future of mankind and are certain to be profitable.
According to Budi, throughout the history of civilization, the events that caused the biggest number of human deaths were pandemics, specifically, the Black Death, which claimed up to 200 million people, more than the second world war's 50 million deaths, and the flooding incident on the Yangtze River in China which killed 4 million people.
"If you can spend hundreds of trillions of US dollars investing in the defense industry thinking that humanity's greatest enemy is people or war, then you are wrong. History has shown that the biggest human deaths actually come from pathogens," Budi said.
Budi, who sat between Arifin Tasrif and Sandiaga Uno, went on to say that he believes every rational businessman will choose to invest in the health sector over other sectors. "Of course, you also have to invest in tourism and energy, but the first and most important thing is the health sector," he said, as he was greeted by laughter from the business people present.
When given the opportunity to speak, Arifin Tasrif immediately responded to Budi's statement by saying that the energy sector -- especially renewable energy -- was going to be the most important sector in the future. Moreover, he added that Indonesia is blessed with abundant alternative energy sources.
Within the next 10 years, Indonesia plans to build a 22 GW alternative power plant that requires an investment of USD50 billion. According to Arifin, this is a good investment opportunity for entrepreneurs.
"If Mr. Budi says that health is important, that is true. But don't forget that there is no health without energy, and no tourism without electricity. So invest in energy," said Arifin, who was also greeted with laughter from the businesspersons present.
Indonesia's relatively stable economic condition amidst the current global economic turmoil could serve as a point of attraction for global investors to invest in Indonesia.
Sandiaga Uno, who was last to speak among the three ministers, also added that his sector was no less important. The tourism and creative economy sectors, which are mostly dominated by small and medium-scale businesses, are the backbone of the economy. They collectively fulfill all 17 points for sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Even though not that many new investments have come in thus far, Sandiaga said he was sure that Indonesia could attract USD6-8 billion in investment in the tourism sector and the creative economy within the next 3-5 years.
“If you don't want to invest in this sector, I will invest myself. The opportunity is too big and the impact on society is too big," said Sandiaga, who has a business background.
Attracting more investment projects into the country from the start has been a side target for the Indonesian government in this year's G20 presidency. The government itself must pursue an investment realization target of IDR 1,200 trillion by the end of this year.
As of quarter III-2022, investment achievements have reached 74.4 percent or IDR 892.4 trillion. The government still has to pursue IDR 307.6 trillion in investment throughout the last three months of this year.
Last week, in an interview with Kompas, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said that Indonesia's relatively stable economic condition amidst the current global economic turmoil could serve as a point of attraction for global investors to invest in Indonesia.
"Our economy can grow by 5.72 percent at a time when other countries are falling. I'm not saying we're perfect, but people can see that we're still well-managed. If I were an investor, I would see that Indonesia is the right destination for me to invest," she said.
According to the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, the G20 presidency was able to produce 140 bilateral cooperation projects with a total value of USD71.49 billion for Indonesia.
These projects consist of 99 investment projects or grants worth USD60.7 billion, 11 financing or loan projects worth USD10.79 billion, and 31 projects that have no quantitative value but have strategic value for Indonesia. It is believed that this number will continue to increase.
This article was translated by Prasiddha Gustanto