We are the most prepared country."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Deputy Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro has said that Indonesia is the first country to receive funding from the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund (AIF).

The funds will be used to develop an electricity network in Bali.

"We are the most prepared country. A project is already available and Indonesia is in need of funds," he noted here on Wednesday.

Bambang said that apart from the loan for the electricity network, Indonesia would also receive loans for other infrastructure projects from the AIF in the middle of 2014.

The AIF is lending US$25 million to Indonesia for various infrastructure projects.

"If I am not mistaken, the next round of funding will be for a road project. Every year, we have two projects; one of them (the electricity network project) is already underway, while the other one, will, hopefully, be implemented by the middle of next year," he added.

He estimated the overall cost of the electricity project in Bali at US$410 million. Bali desperately needs an electricity network of its own; it currently receives electricity supply from Java to meet its daily requirement.

"Most of the power plants are found in Java, while Bali has none. So later, the network in Bali will be connected with those in Java," he added.

Bambang, who is also the chairman of the AIFs board of directors, said the first AIF loan would be used for expanding the electricity transmission network from Java to Bali. That will overcome the weakness of the current system, which frequently causes power outages in Bali,which relies heavily on the tourism industry for revenues.

The Deputy for Development Funding of the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), Wismana Adi Suryabrata, said the AIF is part of efforts by ASEAN countries to diversify their sources of funding as they attempt to upgrade their infrastructure.

"I believe this will be a model that will be further developed because the funds required for infrastructure development are huge. We cant rely solely on contributions from international institutions," he noted.

ASEAN countries and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) agreed to set up the AIF in September 2011 by regulating capital participation and contributions from each member country.

The ADB provides the management to the AIF and also acts as the technical consultant and loan registrar.

The AIF was established in Malaysia in April 2012. It became completely operational in 2013. Shareholders of the fund include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the ADB.

The AIF plans to provide funds up to a maximum of US$300 million a year for various infrastructure projects, such as the development of roads, railways, electricity and water networks, etc.

The projects chosen for funding will depend on the impact they will have on the local community, especially with regard to poverty reduction and economic benefits.

(Reporting by Satyagraha/H-YH/INE/KR-BSR/S012)

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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