Indians in the Running to Back Stalled Lombok Mega-Resort

JAKARTA
The Bali Times

FIVE candidates are being considered to back the troubled multimillion-dollar resort development on Lombok, investment chiefs revealed this week, with the original Dubai-based backer, Emaar, still in the running.

Speaking to reporters at the Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs in Jakarta, chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Gita Wirjawan said that the tender results would be released in May.

The planned resort, set to complement a delay-plagued new international airport, is slated to be built on the island’s remote, arid southern coast.

Emaar signed a joint venture agreement with the Bali Tourism Development Corporation to fund the project in 2008, but the agreement was terminated by Indonesian authorities earlier this year after claims that the Dubai investors had failed to meet their commitments.

Emaar, which has been hit by recent economic woes in the emirate, countered that the government had not met some of their own commitments, and the project, with an expected cost of US$600 million, was reopened for tender.

Gita Wirjawan said that although Emaar was still being conside red, they were now up against other potential backers from the Middle East and India.

The announcement follows a recent trip to Dubai, Doha and India by officials from BKPM to drum up support for the Lombok project, with reports of interest from an unidentified Indian investor drawing much attention.

“There certainly is an investor from India who is interested in investing in Lombok, but there are also others who are keen to invest in Lombok.  This means that the process is still rolling.  But the Indian investor is a big group, seriously big,” Wirjawan said, adding that he was unable to release the name of the group.

“I can’t tell you yet,” he said.

According to Wirjawan the original terms of the joint venture had been altered and Emaar would receive no preferential treatment.

“We don’t have a preferred investor yet,” he said, adding that a decision would be made within the next two months.

Wirjawan said that work on the 1,200-hectare plot at A’an, east of the existing low-key tourist centre of Kuta, Lombok, and originally envisaged to attract high-spending tourists from the Middle East, would go ahead once investment was agreed.

“Construction for the project is due to start in the second half of this year,” he said.

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