International hotel operator Accor and German luxury carmaker BMW both see potential and promise in Indonesia. The global companies both announced plans to expand their presence in the country on the same day, another indication that the economy is on the up. Accor has committed to opening 34 hotels in Indonesia to take advantage of the growing business travel and tourism sectors, while BMW plans to invest Rp 100 billion ($11.7 million) to expand production.
According to Michael Issenberg, chief operating officer of Accor Asia Pacific, Indonesia was the firm’s third-fastest growing market after China and India. Such investments are great news for the country because they will create thousands of jobs and boost gross domestic product. They will also help to provide services and products to meet the expectation of a fast-growing middle class. Indonesia needs many more such investments if the country is to realize its ambition, as spelled out by the new economic master plan, of becoming one of the 10 largest economies in the world by 2030. If the government hopes to attract the $300 billion in new investment it says it requires to achieve its goals, it will have to lower corporate taxes and introduce more pro-business policies. The government’s role must be to create the right environment for businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and flourish. It must lead the way in investing in and upgrading the country’s infrastructure as well as cutting red tape so that businesses can operate with greater efficiency. As Globe Asia’s latest 150 Richest Indonesians list illustrates, the country does not have a shortfall of entrepreneurs. Indeed, the country’s real strength lies in the spirit and ability of its entrepreneurs, who have been creating jobs and boosting economic growth. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must recognize — and, in fact, celebrate — the country’s entrepreneurial spirit and drive. He needs to come out much more strongly on the side of entrepreneurs and be their chief cheerleader. The government must do everything within its power to support these entrepreneurs because, after all, it is them who will be taking risks, investing and executing business plans.