New Indonesian president targets growth ‘unseen since Asia crisis’

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Joko WidodoIndonesia’s President-elect Joko Widodo said he’s aiming for a growth pace Indonesia hasn’t seen since before the 1990s Asian financial crisis, a shift that would bolster the clout of the world’s fourth most-populous nation.

“We must address shortcomings in infrastructure and manufacturing, and then we need to invest more in strong human capital,” Widodo, known as Jokowi, 53, said according to Bloomberg. “When our economy grows more than 7 per cent, I am very confident” it will strengthen Indonesia’s role in international forums, he said.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy can achieve such a pace of expansion in two years, according to the Jakarta Governor, who still faces a potential legal challenge from opponent Prabowo Subianto to secure his election victory. While Indonesia has lured record overseas investment in recent years, supply bottlenecks and limited public transportation have held back its potential.

“We must be realistic,” Jokowi said in the interview on July 21 of his country’s economic challenges. The onetime head of a furniture business has pledged to curb fuel subsidies that have sapped funds needed for infrastructure, and to rein in corruption, in part by moving to an online tax system.

Asia’s fifth-biggest economy saw growth slow to 5.21 per cent in the first quarter, the weakest pace since 2009, and hasn’t seen a pace of 7 per cent or more on an annual basis since the years before the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis — the turmoil of which helped bring down dictator Suharto.

Clad in an untucked white shirt with the sleeves rolled up in the living room of his house, a barefoot Jokowi embodied the down-to-earth image that resonated among millions of voters in the July 9 election. The interview was conducted over cups of tea, with the television on in the background and no uniformed security in sight.

Jokowi secured 53.15 per cent of votes, according to the General Elections Commission, beating Prabowo, a 62-year-old former army commando who was once married to Suharto’s daughter and won 46.85 per cent. The contest divided Indonesia between those looking for a more liberal democracy and those nostalgic for a leader who projects strength and decisiveness.

Prabowo yesterday pulled his witness team from the elections commission, calling the ballot undemocratic, after making repeated calls for a delay in the results announcement. He now has three days to contest the results in the constitutional court.

Looking ahead to his agenda after taking office in October, Jokowi cast a robust economy as key to projecting a revitalized Indonesia in the region.

“When our economy grows more than 7 per cent I am very confident for Indonesia to play a role in the world, not only in the ASEAN Economic Community but also in international forums,” he said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s efforts toward economic integration.

Jokowi’s coalition has 37 per cent of seats in parliament after elections in April. Some officials in parties in alliance with Prabowo, such as Golkar, have indicated they may switch to Jokowi, which would make it easier for him to pass laws even as a more diverse group could make it harder to get consensus on policy changes.

“He’s faced with a fragmented parliament and potentially a parliament that he might not have control of,” Euben Paracuelles, a Singapore-based economist at Nomura Holdings Inc., said of Jokowi. “Where he could make an impact is medium-term potential growth for Indonesia which would obviously take time to show up. But the reforms that are needed to get there have to be done now.”

The rupiah rose to a two-month high and stocks advanced on Jokowi’s win. The currency rose 1 per cent in the biggest advance since July 7 to 11,488 per dollar as of 9:49 am on July 22 in Jakarta, prices from local banks show. That’s the strongest level since May 20. The Jakarta Composite index of shares gained 1 per cent.

“With the presidential elections behind us, investors are likely to focus on fundamentals, which are arguably weakening,” Morgan Stanley analysts Hozefa Topiwalla and Aarti Shah said in a note to clients. Jokowi’s victory “remains inconclusive regarding the direction and pace of actual implementation of reforms.”

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Indonesia’s President-elect Joko Widodo said he’s aiming for a growth pace Indonesia hasn’t seen since before the 1990s Asian financial crisis, a shift that would bolster the clout of the world’s fourth most-populous nation.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Joko WidodoIndonesia’s President-elect Joko Widodo said he’s aiming for a growth pace Indonesia hasn’t seen since before the 1990s Asian financial crisis, a shift that would bolster the clout of the world’s fourth most-populous nation.

“We must address shortcomings in infrastructure and manufacturing, and then we need to invest more in strong human capital,” Widodo, known as Jokowi, 53, said according to Bloomberg. “When our economy grows more than 7 per cent, I am very confident” it will strengthen Indonesia’s role in international forums, he said.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy can achieve such a pace of expansion in two years, according to the Jakarta Governor, who still faces a potential legal challenge from opponent Prabowo Subianto to secure his election victory. While Indonesia has lured record overseas investment in recent years, supply bottlenecks and limited public transportation have held back its potential.

“We must be realistic,” Jokowi said in the interview on July 21 of his country’s economic challenges. The onetime head of a furniture business has pledged to curb fuel subsidies that have sapped funds needed for infrastructure, and to rein in corruption, in part by moving to an online tax system.

Asia’s fifth-biggest economy saw growth slow to 5.21 per cent in the first quarter, the weakest pace since 2009, and hasn’t seen a pace of 7 per cent or more on an annual basis since the years before the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis — the turmoil of which helped bring down dictator Suharto.

Clad in an untucked white shirt with the sleeves rolled up in the living room of his house, a barefoot Jokowi embodied the down-to-earth image that resonated among millions of voters in the July 9 election. The interview was conducted over cups of tea, with the television on in the background and no uniformed security in sight.

Jokowi secured 53.15 per cent of votes, according to the General Elections Commission, beating Prabowo, a 62-year-old former army commando who was once married to Suharto’s daughter and won 46.85 per cent. The contest divided Indonesia between those looking for a more liberal democracy and those nostalgic for a leader who projects strength and decisiveness.

Prabowo yesterday pulled his witness team from the elections commission, calling the ballot undemocratic, after making repeated calls for a delay in the results announcement. He now has three days to contest the results in the constitutional court.

Looking ahead to his agenda after taking office in October, Jokowi cast a robust economy as key to projecting a revitalized Indonesia in the region.

“When our economy grows more than 7 per cent I am very confident for Indonesia to play a role in the world, not only in the ASEAN Economic Community but also in international forums,” he said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s efforts toward economic integration.

Jokowi’s coalition has 37 per cent of seats in parliament after elections in April. Some officials in parties in alliance with Prabowo, such as Golkar, have indicated they may switch to Jokowi, which would make it easier for him to pass laws even as a more diverse group could make it harder to get consensus on policy changes.

“He’s faced with a fragmented parliament and potentially a parliament that he might not have control of,” Euben Paracuelles, a Singapore-based economist at Nomura Holdings Inc., said of Jokowi. “Where he could make an impact is medium-term potential growth for Indonesia which would obviously take time to show up. But the reforms that are needed to get there have to be done now.”

The rupiah rose to a two-month high and stocks advanced on Jokowi’s win. The currency rose 1 per cent in the biggest advance since July 7 to 11,488 per dollar as of 9:49 am on July 22 in Jakarta, prices from local banks show. That’s the strongest level since May 20. The Jakarta Composite index of shares gained 1 per cent.

“With the presidential elections behind us, investors are likely to focus on fundamentals, which are arguably weakening,” Morgan Stanley analysts Hozefa Topiwalla and Aarti Shah said in a note to clients. Jokowi’s victory “remains inconclusive regarding the direction and pace of actual implementation of reforms.”

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