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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        31  March 2011

New Indo palm oil factory starts

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Indonesian palm oil giant Sinar Mas Agro Resources & Technology and its affiliated companies will invest Rp 9 trillion (US$1 billion) in the space of four to five years to develop its downstream business, the company said.

“This Rp 9 trillion in investment is likely to absorb around 20,000 workers, either directly or indirectly,” company chairman Franky Widjaja said after an inauguration ceremony for a crude palm oil factory in Marunda, West Java, on Wednesday.

Sinar Mas Agro Resources & Technology is a division of Sinar Mas Group.

The Marunda CPO processing factory is worth Rp 2.3 trillion and is part of the company’s Rp 9 trillion commitment. It has a processing capacity of 300,000 tons of CPO per year and is set to produce 168,000 tons of cooking oil and 112,000 tons of margarine.

Facilities in the factory will be expanded to enable it to produce 140,000 tons of cocoa butter substitute annually.

Franky said similar factories would be built in Surabaya, Tarjun in South Kalimantan and Belawan in North Sumatra.

“This effort is in line with the government’s policy to boost investment in the manufacturing sector,” he said.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa, Industry Minister MS Hidayat, Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, Chief Coordinating Minister Gita Wirjawan and West Java Vice Governor Dede Yusuf attended the the inauguration ceremony.

Rising commodity prices and efforts to boost the nation’s commodity processing sector have seen more companies pouring money into palm oil products, even though the industry faces challenges from environmentalists, land acquisition issues and a complex bureaucracy.

Other food companies, including Nestle and palm oil giant Wilmar, have made commitments to spend more money in Indonesia, the world’s largest producer of palm oil.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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