Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo, more popularly known as Jokowi, intends to increase the government’s tax revenue by allowing foreigners to buy luxury apartments, worth at least IDR 2.5 billion (approximately USD $211,864), in the larger cities of Indonesia and on the island of Bali (a popular tourist destination). Currently, foreigners cannot buy property in Indonesia. However, indirect structures, such as the use of their Indonesian wife’s name or an agent are common, meaning that the state loses out on luxury tax income.
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According to property consulting services company Jones Lang LaSalle, Jakarta is showing the steepest increase in prices of luxury houses among several Asian cities that have been monitored. In the second quarter of 2013, prices of luxury houses in Jakarta increased 34.2 percent year on year, followed by Beijing with a 18.7 percent price growth rate. The only city that saw a depreciation of luxury house prices was Singapore (-2.1 percent). Luxury house prices in Jakarta grew nine percent compared to the first quarter of 2013.
Business players in Indonesia's property sector are not happy with the government's intention to collect more tax from the sector in 2014 and onwards. The property sector has been one of the fastest growing sectors in Indonesia's economy in recent years as demand for property has surged significantly among Indonesia's expanding middle class, resulting in massive profit numbers for Indonesian property companies. Meanwhile, the government of Indonesia has been busy taking efforts to increase tax revenues.
Indonesia's largest listed property developer, PT Lippo Karawaci, will distribute IDR 270 billion (USD $27.8 million) in dividends to its shareholders (IDR 11,86 per share). This amount is equivalent to 25.5 percent of the company's net profit in 2012. The developer posted a 49.7 percent increase in net profit last year to IDR 1.06 trillion (USD $109.3 million). The company is convinced that it will increase its net profit to IDR 1.9 trillion (USD $195.9) in 2013.
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The tax amnesty program of Indonesia is yet to have an impact on Indonesia's property sector. Earlier, analysts and stakeholders expected part of the asset repatriations into Indonesia (under the government's tax amnesty program) to flow to property, either property ownership or property development projects. Although tax declarations and additional government revenue under the amnesty program were a success, the repatriation of assets that were stashed overseas has been weak. However, some stakeholders are optimistic that repatriated funds will flow to Indonesia's residential property in Q2-2017.
Indonesia's residential property market has shown robust growth in recent years as demand from the country's rapidly expanding middle class for mid-level and luxury property increased steadily amid a low interest rate environment and robust national economic growth. Demand for property is also backed by high consumer confidence as a recent Nielsen survey shows that Indonesians are among the world's most confident consumers. Indonesians' consumer confidence was at a four-year high in the fourth quarter of 2013.
According to Ferry Salanto, Associate Research Director at Colliers International Indonesia, the weakening rupiah exchange rate against the US dollar in recent months has resulted in an increase of property sales in Indonesia, particularly apartments. Salanto says it is not just an investment for the buyer but also a matter of security. Property is currently a better and safer alternative to the holding of rupiahs. In the third quarter of 2013, property sales increased despite the higher benchmark interest rate and the tightening property credit environment.
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