Thu, Oct 04, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Indonesia weighs tax cut for bond investors

PROPPING UP RUPIAH:Jakarta intervened after the currency fell to above 15,000 to the US dollar on Tuesday and hovered about there yesterday. It has lost about 10% this year

Bloomberg

Indonesia is weighing proposals to cut the levy on gains from its sovereign bonds and extend tax breaks to exporters who will park their US dollar earnings in local banks for a longer period as part of measures to shore up a weakening currency.

Lower bond taxes could attract more inflows and help “deepen domestic financial markets,” Indonesian Director-General of Taxes Robert Pakpahan said in an interview in Jakarta.

Officials are also tweaking rules to grant exporters a tax break on foreign-exchange deposits beyond six months, Pakpahan said.

Foreign investors, except those from jurisdictions with tax treaties with Indonesia, pay a 20 percent tax on Indonesian bonds, while locals are taxed at 15 percent.

There is no decision yet on the magnitude of the reduction, Pakpahan said on Friday last week.

The proposals are the latest in a series of steps by policymakers to bolster the rupiah, which weakened past 15,000 per US dollar for the first time in 20 years on Tuesday and stayed around that level yesterday, leading Indonesian authorities to step in to support the currency.

Inflows such as those into stocks and bonds have become more crucial in boosting the supply of US dollars as the Indonesian central bank drains its reserves to slow the currency’s slide.

Indonesia is among the hardest hit by the emerging-market selloff this year, with the currency losing about 10 percent.

Foreign inflows into its bonds stood at a paltry US$832 million in the nine months through last month, compared with US$11.5 billion a year earlier, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

Foreign investors have trimmed their holding of rupiah bonds from a record 41.5 percent in January to about 37 percent. The yield on benchmark 10-year bonds has risen 192 basis points this year.

Since early 2016, the government has provided tax exemption for exporters depositing earnings in local banks for a certain period.

Still, not many made use of the facility as the incentives ended with the rollover of the proceeds into a new deposit, Pakapahan said.

“That’s why we are trying to fix that rollover requirement now,” he said. “When the exporters roll over their foreign-exchange earnings, they will still get the incentives.”

The new rule will soon take effect, he said.

In a boost to the government’s efforts to stabilize the currency, exporters have also pledged to convert about 40 percent of their revenue to the rupiah, Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Rosan Roeslani said.

While exporters repatriated more than 90 percent of their earnings in the second quarter, only 14 percent of that was converted into rupiah, central bank data showed.

“After a series of discussions with the government, Bank Indonesia and the Financial Service Authority, we have committed to convert about 40 percent of the repatriated earnings into the rupiah,” Roeslani said on Monday. “This new rollover policy will help to realize such a target.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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