Jakarta. Indonesia’s trade deficit narrowed in August, but the gap was larger than expected as exports growth slowed, government data showed on Monday (17/09), adding to pressure on the rupiah and local stocks.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy reported a trade deficit of $1.02 billion for last month, much bigger than the $680 million gap expected in a Reuters poll.

The country had a revised $2.01 billion trade deficit in July, the largest in five years.

August imports were worth $16.8 billion, up 25 percent from a year earlier, data released by the statistics bureau showed. This compared with expectations of a 27 percent rise in the poll.

Meanwhile, exports growth slowed to 4.2 percent from a year earlier to $15.8 billion in August, compared with the poll forecast of a 10 percent increase.

Imports of consumer goods posted the biggest annual growth last month, while exports of agriculture products fell nearly 21 percent from a year earlier, the data showed, contributing to the slowdown in exports. Higher oil and gas imports also contributed to the deficit, according to the statistics bureau.

The rupiah slipped further after the data came in to trade at 14,885 per dollar, 0.57 percent below Friday’s close. The Indonesian currency traded at 14,880 per dollar before the data.

The rupiah has been trading at 20-year lows after being sucked into an emerging market rout, with selling exacerbated by concern over the country’s ability to plug a yawning current account deficit.

Jakarta’s benchmark stock index also extended falls to trade 1.8 percent lower, while the 10-year bond yield rose to 8.428 percent from 8.382 percent at Monday’s opening.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati announced in August a plan to raise import tariffs on more than 1,000 consumer goods as part of an ongoing battle to rein in the trade gap and support the rupiah, which has been weakened about 9 percent against the dollar so far this year.

The tariffs were not applied in August, but analysts have said importers may have frontloaded overseas purchases ahead of the hikes.

Other efforts by the government to control imports include the mandatory use of biodiesel and delays in infrastructure projects.

These policies may only start showing impact on the trade deficit at the end of the year, said Bank Permata economist Josua Pardede, adding that the current account deficit for 2018 was estimated to be within the range of 2.5 percent to 2.7 percent of gross domestic product. The deficit stood at 1.7 percent in 2017.


By : Maikel Jefriando and Nilufar Rizki | on 4:33 PM September 17, 2018


Jakarta. New research by a prominent watchdog reveals an alarming trend in the fight against graft, showing that well over half of corruption suspects tried in court in the first half of the year were acquitted. Released on Sunday, Indonesia Corruption Watch data showed that 54.8 percent of defendants facing charges of corruption in regular courts — including district or municipal courts, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court — ended up walking free. Of those who were convicted, 8 out of 10 received sentences under five years.

“This is an indication of how our courts do not show seriousness in punishing corruptors — 54 percent is a huge number,” said Donal Fariz, an ICW law researcher and head of the watchdog’s court monitoring division. The first six months of the year saw 166 graft defendants tried in 103 cases in various courts, with district courts handling 82 cases, he said. Bureaucrats topped the list of defendants, followed by lawmakers and counselors, local government officials, teachers, lecturers and a former minister.

Cases largely involved school and local government spending. “We need to watch our appellate courts, because their trend is pretty different from our antigraft court’s,” Donal said, adding that in 17 cases handled by the Anti-Corruption Court over the same period, no defendants were acquitted. Alongside the 54 percent of defendants acquitted, the data shows that 22.9 percent of defendants were jailed for up to two years, and 18 percent for two to five years. The average sentence was 12 to 13 months. Read more

Jakarta. A heavily criticized and costly new office building planned for Indonesian lawmakers promises to have every available comfort, including a swimming pool, a gym and spa facilities, the lead architect said on Tuesday. Budi Sukada, who heads the team overseeing the design, told the Jakarta Globe that the facilities were in accordance with city bylaws that “a building occupied by more than 500 people must provide public facilities and social facilities.”

However, he stressed that unlike similar facilities in five-star hotels, designers were aiming at the functionality of the pool and the spa “for health” reasons. “We know the lawmakers sit in meetings for hours, so they need facilities to get their blood flowing,” Budi said. The architect denied rumors that the lawmakers’ spacious, 120-square-meter offices would include bedrooms.

They would, however, have en-suite bathrooms and meeting room lounges for guests, as well as work space for staff members and experts, he said. But House Speaker Marzuki Alie, from the ruling Democratic Party, said the builders were “talking rubbish,” as they had never reported the planned amenities to him. Marzuki said he would summon them to ask for a clarification, and promised the building would have no such facilities. “The design still can be changed.” Read more

Jakarta. The House of Representatives on Monday celebrated its 65th anniversary with a muted response to mounting public criticisms of its recent performance. House Speaker Marzuki Alie, addressing a plenary session called to mark the occasion, only touched on the issues affecting the legislature during his speech.

“The House completely understands the people’s criticisms of its legislative functions, seeing the small numbers of bills we have deliberated,” he told a nearly half-empty chamber. “Therefore, various efforts have been undertaken to confront this challenge and look for breakthroughs.”
Since starting its tenure in October, the House has only managed to pass seven bills, already forcing it to halve its initial target of completing 70 bills this year. Marzuki, who is from the ruling Democratic Party, asked the public to understand that the House also had to deliberate with the government over bills, and the process was invariably a long one.

“The people need to be informed of this so there will be no more talk about the legislature not being serious enough when deliberating bills,” he said. House Deputy Speaker Pramono Anung, from the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), conceded the work of the current legislature left much to be desired. Read more