Indonesia GDP seen up; to exit recession in Q2

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    JAKARTA- Indonesia’s economy is on course to emerge from a pandemic-induced recession in the second quarter, with gross domestic product seen growing by more than 7 percent from a year earlier, government officials said on Tuesday.

    Southeast Asia’s largest economy suffered its first recession in over two decades last year, posting negative growth in each quarter from April-June 2020 as the country battled with one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia.

    GDP contracted 2.1 percent in 2020 and the government sees a rebound this year to a growth range of 4.5 percent to 5.3 percent.

    Based on February data, GDP was set to contract 1.0 percent to 0.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, an improvement from a 2.2 percent fourth-quarter contraction on rising consumption, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told a virtual briefing, adding a coronavirus vaccine rollout would also help the economy.

    Fiscal policy office head, Febrio Kacaribu, said the economy hit its lowest point in the second quarter of 2020 so should show a significant improvement in the next quarter.

    “Our latest calculation shows growth can reach more than 7 percent year-on-year,” he told the same briefing.

    DBS economist Radhika Rao said economic activity in the first quarter remained sluggish but should improve thereafter, aided by a “moderating (COVID-19) case count, a timely vaccination rollout, easy financial conditions and a commodity price upcycle”, even without further interest rate cuts.

    Bank Indonesia has cut rates by a cumulative 150 basis points since the start of the pandemic.

    January-February state revenue rose 0.7 percent from a year ago, while spending increased 1.2 percent, with a tentative fiscal deficit of 0.36 percent of GDP, ministry data showed.

    Tax revenue was down 4.8 percent, but a rise in value added tax payments last month signaled a recovery in consumption.

    Indonesia has issued 271.4 trillion rupiah ($18.8 billion) of bonds, excluding buybacks and short-term treasury bills. The central bank has bought 73.88 trillion rupiah as a standby buyer during debt auctions.

    Sri Mulyani said the government will be vigilant about potential capital outflows amid global market volatility.

    Fitch Ratings on Monday affirmed Indonesia’s credit ratings with a stable outlook, predicting GDP growth of 5.3 percent this year and 6 percent in 2022, while noting Indonesia was more vulnerable than many peers to shifts in investor confidence towards emerging markets.