Lord O’Neill has his eye on Jakarta

Rather than getting a “tap on the shoulder” from the board of Goldman Sachs, economist Jim O’Neill took a step back from the cut and thrust of investment banking and embarked on the guest-speaker circuit, as well as using other stock in trade.

That was not before popping up in TV studios to reflect on a career that saw him coining the term Brics to cluster Brazil, Russia, India and China – the nations he picked as the prime emerging economies. South Africa was later added to the acronym. Business show presenters pressed him on how well he shined as a “guru” of currency markets but his avowed loyalty to Manchester United will get strikingly different reactions among many.

Lord O’Neill of Gatley (he was appointed to the House of Lords by British Prime Minister David Cameron last month) was in Jakarta earlier this year at an investment forum held by Barclays and Bank Mandiri.

O’Neill said “radical” infrastructure projects or ideas would help Indonesia become the seventh largest economy in the world by 2050 if every emerging economy was to achieve its growth potential. 

Anyone who has sat in Jakarta traffic would have full empathy for what O’Neill advocates. Indeed, better infrastructure – much of it designed to alleviate the challenges of getting around the capital efficiently – is already on track.

At Imex Frankfurt, Martini Paham, deputy director of MICE and special interest promotion at Indonesia’s tourism ministry, was on hand at the Wonderful Indonesia pavilion to outline some of the projects, including subway metro system and light railway.

As the government nudges the international MICE industry into bringing events and groups to Jakarta and other cities in Java, Lord O’Neill’s insights will offer encouragement to hotels, venues and ground operators beyond Bali. Not least among them will be two new facilities in north Jakarta, near the airport – the Indonesia Convention & Exhibition Centre, operated by Deutsche Messe, and Mercure Convention Centre.

In 2014, hoteliers told me how local and presidential elections had to be dealt with first before they pushed ahead with plans to attract more international groups. With the authorities now able to move ahead, and global investors eyeing the Asean factor, it may not be just another line of traffic that awaits around the corner in Jakarta, but beneficial changes for business event and conference organisers.

Martin Donovan is the Editor of MIX

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