Govt gives Emaar the boot, looks for new funds
Andi Haswidi , The Jakarta Post | Wed, 01/27/2010 3:37 PM | Headlines
The government has decided to terminate all commitments with Dubai-based Emaar Properties on a plan to build a US$600 million mega-tourism project in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) chairman Gita Wirjawan said Tuesday that Emaar had failed to meet its share of the bargain in developing the project.
Gita said the government, represented by the West Nusa Tenggara government, had followed through with its commitments, including building an airport – to be completed in June – a 31-kilometer road connecting Mataram to the airport and an 18-kilometer road from the airport to Kuta Beach.
“*Emaar* failed to reciprocate in kind. We have taken this decision to ensure fairness and we will look for other possibilities,” Gita said.
The mega-tourism project has been marked by finger-pointing since Emaar signed a joint venture agreement with the Bali Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC) in March 2008. The agreement included establishing a joint venture company called Emaar Lombok.
Emaar claimed last year that the Indonesian government had failed to follow through with some of its promises, citing in particular the clearance of a 1,200-hectare area of land required for construction.
In October, Alwi Shihab, Indonesia’s special envoy to the Middle East, who also worked extensively on the project, said the land dispute was solved and that the project would follow through.
Further development showed that around 1,000 hectares had been set aside by the government for the project but still required certification from the National Land Agency (BPN), while the remainder still belonged to local residents.
A disagreement surrounding the company’s investment contributions and ownership in the joint venture has also overshadowed the project.
State SOE Minister Mustafa Abubakar said earlier this month the deal with Emaar had expired, but the company would be given a chance to sign a new deal.
Both parties had agreed to a Dec. 31 deadline to solve the numerous problems plaguing the project. Mustafa said the deadline would not be extended but said he was willing to have fresh talks with Emaar about restarting the much-delayed project.
Gita hinted that the decision to kick Emaar out of Lombok was also in the interest of the property company as it was currently struggling from the impact of the financial crisis.
“Dubai World has been heavily affected by the financial crisis. They have to restructure $59 billion in debt. This will have repercussions on Emaar, which is based in Dubai.
“The company also embarked on massive projects in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. There are a financial limitation. Secondly, they prefer to focus on settling their problems in the Middle East,” Gita said.
No Emaar official was available for comment Tuesday.
Gita said his office had been in talks with investors interested in replacing Emaar.
“We have met with interested investors. One from the Middle East and another from outside the region,” he said, refusing to elaborate further.
West Nusa Tenggara province, located just east of Bali, has become the central focus of the ministry’s tourism programs, with a specific program aiming to draw one million tourists to the province by 2012.
The province is rich in marine life and will be developed as the center for the pearl trade and ecotourism. Famous Lombok tourist sites include Senggigi Beach, the three Gili islands, Mt. Rinjani and Lake Segara Anak.
Tourist spots in the more secluded Sumbawa Island include Mt. Tambora, Moyo Island, Jelenga Beach and Maluk Beach.