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Survey of recent developments

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  • Lloyd Kenward

Abstract

The economy continues along the general trajectory described in recent Surveys. Growth is picking up, led by consumption but restrained by investment. Inflation has fallen well below Bank Indonesia's current target rate. Most interest rates have followed suit, including key lending rates. Bank lending has been expanding at around 20% p.a. for the past year or so, and international portfolio investors are again interested in Indonesia. But a scare in the mutual funds industry and scandals at two state banks remind that trouble still simmers just below the surface in the financial sector. Fiscal policy continues its conservative stance. The government is likely to have achieved its 2003 deficit target, and the budget for 2004 envisages further narrowing of the deficit. Still, the deadline for achieving a modest budgetary surplus has slipped two years, to 2006. Draft amendments to the income tax law foreshadow a probable reduction in corporate tax rates, increases in personal rates, and removal of certain key exemptions. Proposed administrative changes would give tax officials significantly greater powers of investigation and prosecution; observers foresee increased scope for extortion by unscrupulous officials. Monetary policy has become increasingly expansionary, given the central bank's desire to support economic recovery and its success in driving inflation down. This is reflected in quite rapid base money growth and sharp falls in policy interest rates, notwithstanding some efforts by Bank Indonesia to slow their decline. Trade policy has been dominated by increasing signs of resurgent protectionism, including a shift away from a transparent tariff regime to rent-generating systems of licensing. On the political front, opinion polls in advance of the national elections suggest a considerable shift in the parliament, away from PDI-P in favour of Golkar. The size of this shift will be critical in determining the choice of candidates for the subsequent presidential elections. At present, Megawati Sukarnoputri remains the front-runner, but almost any combination of major parties could still form a coalition and make a credible run at the presidency. With elections looming, little further progress can be expected on the economic policy front in 2004. In these circumstances, the focus for progress shifts to a politically independent Bank Indonesia. With strong policies in its areas of responsi-bility—inflation, monetary policy and financial sector development—further progress is achievable even during an election year. This would lay a solid foundation for robust economic recovery, hopefully policy driven by the next administration.

Suggested Citation

  • Lloyd Kenward, 2004. "Survey of recent developments," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(1), pages 9-35.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:bindes:v:40:y:2004:i:1:p:9-35
    DOI: 10.1080/0007491042000205187
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrew MacIntyre & Budy Resosudarmo, 2003. "Survey Of Recent Developments," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(2), pages 133-156.
    2. Asep Suryahadi & Wenefrida Widyanti & Daniel Perwira & Sudarno Sumarto, 2003. "Minimum Wage Policy And Its Impact On Employment In The Urban Formal Sector," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(1), pages 29-50.
    3. Ross H. McLeod, 2004. "Towards Improved Monetary Policy in Indonesia: Response to De Brouwer," Departmental Working Papers 2004-01, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
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