BI Promises to Ease Policy to Spur Growth

BLOKBERITA -- Indonesia’s central bank has promised to ease its lending policy to ensure the economy will pick up despite its decision to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 7.5 percent.

Bank Indonesia (BI) deputy governor Halim Alamsyah said Tuesday that the bank expected to introduce the new policy in the first half of this year in order to spur the country’s economic growth.

The first policy will see the central bank expand the upper limit of the loan-to-deposit ratio (LDR) to 94 percent from the current 92 percent, giving lenders a bigger chance to boost their lending portfolio.

In their attempt to reach the 94 percent ratio, banks will be allowed to source funds by issuing securities, rather than just relying on their usual customer deposits pool, which normally consists of savings, time deposits and demand deposits.

The inclusion of securities within the deposit component will then change the LDR term into a “loan-to-funding ratio” (LFR). “Hopefully this policy can be implemented in the first week of June,” Halim said.

However, to be eligible for the higher upper limit, banks must already meet BI’s regulation on loans for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

At the moment, BI requires all lenders to have channeled at least 5 percent of their total loans to MSMEs by year-end. This requirement is implemented in stages, so that the portion of MSME loans will reach 20 percent of each bank’s lending portfolio by 2018.

The second policy will see BI ease its loan-to-value (LTV) policy on property and automotive purchases. The ease is expected to spur higher domestic consumption that has been hampered by economic slowdown.

“We will ease the policy by reducing the down payment amounts for property and automotive purchases,” Halim said.

The LTV regulation was initially put in place in 2012 on concerns of a possible property bubble. Since then, customers have been required to prepare a certain amount for down payments whenever they purchase a property, car or motorcycle.

The new down payment requirement, according to Halim, may even be 10 percentage points lower than what is set right now.

Indonesia’s economy grew only 4.7 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year, lower than expected, due to the government’s low spending and weak exports. The gross domestic product (GDP) growth was lower than the 5 percent expansion in the fourth quarter. It was the slowest pace since 2009.

BI kept its key interest rate steady on Tuesday for the third consecutive month despite slowing growth.

Meanwhile, BI deputy governor Perry Warjiyo said that BI decided to keep its rate unchanged due to lingering economic uncertainties, including ones that stemmed from overseas.

“Our focus remains on maintaining stability, even though stability and economic growth may not go hand-in-hand. We will keep this stance until we make sure that existing risks are contained,” he said.

He then brushed off the notion that the central bank disregarded economic growth, attributing the two upcoming policies as its form of support toward the economy.

“The revised LTV policy may potentially jack up economic growth by 0.05 percent this year and 0.1 percent in 2016,” Perry said, adding that BI would continue to monitor the situation before making any changes in its own economic growth forecast, now set at between 5.4 percent and 5.8 percent for 2015.

[ bmw / JP ]
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