INDONESIA’S external debt, while creeping upwards, is still at healthy levels, United Overseas Bank economist Enrico Tanuwidjaja has said.
The debt clocked in at US$383.3 billion as at end-January 2019 - or US$5.5 billion more than the previous month - but he estimated that the ratio to gross domestic product was about 36.8 per cent, a steady increase “comparable to the average of country peers” like Thailand.
The growth in external debt came on the back of foreign investments into the government securities, which Mr Tanuwidjaja took as a sign of higher confidence in the Indonesian economy.
“The increase in government’s external debt position provides a greater opportunity for the government to finance state expenditure and government investment,” he added.
Electricity, gas and steam, and human health and social work were the main drivers of external debt growth, alongside financial and insurance, manufacturing and construction.
But Mr Tanuwidjaja also noted that that private external debt, which is mainly made up of loan financing and not debt securities, slowed by 10.8 per cent year on year in January on “a more sluggish growth in working capital”.