Indonesia's Widodo to investors: if you have a problem, call me

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo gestures as he delivers a speech during the interactive session of the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Jakarta April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Beawiharta

JAKARTA (Reuters) - President Joko Widodo urged investors on Monday to come to Indonesia, promising “incredible profits” and assuring them that if they run into any problems they can give him a call.

Widodo, who was elected president six months ago amid hopes that he would bring much-needed reform to Asia’s fifth-largest economy, has come under fire recently for failing to deliver radical change and a series of policy reversals.

Addressing a World Economic Forum meeting in Jakarta, he conceded that Indonesia now faced significant challenges, and compared them to the country’s over-reliance on crude oil exports when oil prices crashed after the 1970s boom.

“Today we are in the same situation,” he said, referring to the push needed after the collapse of oil prices to build industries from textiles and garments to paper and palm oil.

“Commodity prices have crashed. Our currency has been hit. But let me tell you, we have done it before and we shall do it again.”

He said the Indonesian economy now needed to shift from consumption to production and to investment in infrastructure, industry and human capital.

The president wants to raise growth in Southeast Asia’s largest economy to 5.7 percent this year from 5.02 percent in 2014, and attain 7 percent growth on average in his five-year tenure.

Widodo, making a rare speech in English at the start of a week during which Jakarta will also host an Asia-Africa Conference, said he had told his cabinet ministers to be honest about their challenges.

“Please come and invest in Indonesia. Because where we see challenges, I see opportunity,” he said. “And if you have any problem, call me.”

Reporting by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Nick Macfie