Next week Indonesia's financial and stock markets are closed for Idul Fitri (also known as Lebaran or Eid al-Fitr), the celebrations that mark the end of the holy Islamic fasting month (Ramadan). As usual, during the Ramadan month (that started in early June) business activities in Indonesia start to slow and this slowdown will reach its "peak" during the Idul Fitri holiday, a national holiday (from Monday 4 July to Friday 8 July) when some 17.6 million Indonesians who live and work in the bigger cities will return to their places of origin for a couple of days (a tradition called mudik).
Has been fascinated by Indonesian cultures and history since the very first time he stepped foot on Indonesian soil in mid-1998, just one month after Indonesia's second president, Suharto, stepped down from office at a time when the Asian Crisis ravaged through the country. He decided to do his Bachelor and Masters degrees in Southeast Asian Studies at Leiden University (the Netherlands) with a major focus on Indonesian society, history and linguistics. After successfully finishing his MA degree he taught Indonesian languages and cultures at a local university, while realizing the economic potential of the country in a world where the economic gravity point is shifting to the East. With having had a profound training in Indonesia's macroeconomic history at university, he started to delve into the contemporary economic condition of the country and through frequent visits to Indonesia established a network with businesses and government circles.
"One of the most important aspects of doing business in Indonesia is to comprehend Indonesia's culture of business."
|Institute||Business Consultant Indonesia Affairs|
|Position|| Owner | Director
|Expertise||Macroeconomy | Cultural Studies | History|
Columns of R.M.A. van der Schaar
As expected, Indonesia's benchmark Jakarta Composite Index fell on Friday (01/07) due to profit-taking after an impressive recent (relief) rally that brought the index into bull market territory earlier this week. Meanwhile, the Indonesian rupiah maintained its momentum, appreciating 0.72 percent to IDR 13,115 per US dollar on the first day of the new month, the currency's strongest level in three and a half months. Most Asian emerging markets have now repaired their earlier Brexit-induced losses.
In a plenary session on Tuesday (28/06), Indonesia's House of Representatives (DPR) passed the controversial Tax Amnesty Bill into law as well as the revised 2016 state budget. The Indonesian government will be relieved to see the Tax Amnesty Bill come into effect on 1 July 2016 (ending in May 2017) as it expects the bill to boost tax revenue this year by IDR 165 trillion (approx. USD $12.4 billion). Through tax incentives and the pardoning of tax crimes, the tax amnesty program makes it attractive for tax evaders to declare their offshore assets and repatriate these into Indonesia.
Indonesia opened the property market to those foreigners who reside (legally) in Indonesia. However, it also set tough requirements regarding foreign ownership of Indonesian property. Moreover, it remains nearly impossible for expats to obtain a local mortgage to finance the purchase of property. Although local credit may actually not be attractive for foreigners as interest rates are high in Indonesia, it is interesting to take a closer look at why Indonesian banks reject to sell mortgages to foreigners and whether foreigners are actually enticed to buy property in Indonesia?
In the past two weeks, two of the big international credit rating agencies released new reports about Indonesia's fiscal situation. Both agencies affirmed Indonesia's sovereign debt rating: Fitch Ratings kept Indonesia at BBB-/stable (investment grade class) and Standard & Poor's (S&P) maintained Indonesia at BB+/positive (highest junk level, one notch below investment grade). S&P's decision to keep Indonesia within the junk level category was met with disappointment among investors and Indonesian government officials but perhaps not that surprisingly.