Indonesia is ramping up financing for new President Joko Widodo’s $439 billion development program, planning an almost fivefold increase in sales of project sukuk.
The government is seeking to raise 7.14 trillion rupiah ($568 million) from notes that will fund particular construction ventures next year, compared with 1.5 trillion rupiah this year, Suminto, Islamic financing director at the debt management office, said in a Dec. 12 interview in Jakarta. That will help finance its estimated spending of about 5,519 trillion rupiah from 2015 to 2019 to build roads, railways and power plants.
Indonesia is diversifying its sukuk to help increase Shariah-compliant banking assets as a share of the total from 4.7 percent, less than a fifth of Malaysia’s. The Southeast Asian nation can absorb the new supply as there’s not enough local Islamic investments to satisfy demand, so the currency’s 3 percent slide this year won’t deter buyers, according to Amanah Capital Group Ltd.
“We expect large portions of the sukuk to be subscribed by local Indonesian banks and institutions,” Abas A. Jalil, chief executive officer at Kuala Lumpur-based consultant Amanah Capital, said in an e-mail yesterday. “Sukuk investors always have long-term views in their investments and the weakening trend of the rupiah isn’t an isolated case.”
The currency dropped to a 16-year low this week as a slump in Russia’s ruble to a record sparked global financial turmoil. Russia is reeling under sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European Union for its invasion of Ukraine and a six-month, 47 percent drop in crude oil, cutting revenue for the world’s biggest energy exporter.
President Widodo’s development plan includes the construction of 30 dams, 33 hydroelectric power stations, 2,650 kilometers (1,647 miles) of roads, 15 airports and 3,258 kilometers of railroads in the provinces of Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan. Projects approved by the National Development Agency include a railway in Manggarai-Bekasi in Jakarta, the Cirebon-Kroya railway in West Java and a coal transporting railway in southern Sumatra, said Suminto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, at the debt management office.
Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim nation, issues both project-based and project-financing sukuk. Suminto explained that funds raised from the former go toward the state budget and not a specific venture like the latter.
The government sold 800 billion rupiah of project-financing sukuk in 2013, Suminto said. Worldwide sales of Islamic bonds climbed 6.3 percent to $45.3 billion this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. They totaled $43.1 billion in 2013 and a record $46.8 billion in 2012.
“Indonesia is looking to diversify its financing through various channels such as foreign currencies and Islamic financing to attract more varied investors,” Ezra Nazula, head of fixed income at PT Manulife Aset Manajemen Indonesia in Jakarta, said in a Dec. 15 e-mail. “More issuance would mean better liquidity overall and that would bring new investors and develop the Islamic finance industry.”
Indonesian bonds dropped 1.3 percent in the first three days of this week and the rupiah has fallen 0.9 percent since Dec. 12, a Bloomberg index shows. In the Islamic debt market, the yield on the nation’s 6 percent sukuk due in 2016 rose two basis points today to 7.55 percent and is up 19 basis points so far this week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The country needs to increase spending on building projects to 4.4 percent of gross domestic product by 2019 from the current 2.5 percent to avoid growth stagnation, according to a May report from the World Bank.
Southeast Asia’s biggest economy will expand 5.1 percent in 2014, the slowest pace since 2009, according to the median estimate of 29 economists in a Bloomberg survey. The nation’s current account has been in deficit for the past 12 quarters, making it vulnerable to capital outflows as the global turmoil deters risk-taking.
“Investors would see the new government’s initiatives to boost infrastructure as the catalyst for economic growth in the next five years,” Amanah Capital’s Abas said. “Local demand by Indonesian banks for government Shariah-compliant instruments shall remain strong.
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