Adrian Wail Akhlas, Jakarta – The country's foreign exchange (forex) reserves rose to near record-high levels in January at US$131.7 billion owing to foreign inflows from global bonds issuances and the oil and gas sector, Bank Indonesia (BI) announced Friday.
The current reserves level is close to the record-high of $131.9 billion booked in January 2018. It indicates a $2.5 billion increase from the previous month and is enough to support 7.8 months of imports and 7.5 months of imports and payments of the government's short-term debt. It was above the international adequacy standards of about three months of imports.
The central bank deemed the current reserve level "strong enough" to support the country's resilience to external factors, as well as to maintain macroeconomic and financial system stability, BI spokesman Onny Widjanarko said in a press statement.
"BI is of the view that foreign exchange reserves are adequate, supported by stability and a positive outlook for the economy."The Finance Ministry issued government bonds (SUN) in January to raise $2 billion and Euro 1 billion ($1.09 billion).
Bank Mandiri chief economist Andry Asmoro said forex reserves would reach around $130 billion to $135 billion at the end of 2020, citing external sector resilience and stability.
"This is due to flagging growth of major economies and the Federal Reserve's dovish monetary stance, attracting more capital inflows to emerging markets [Ems] including Indonesia," said Andry in a research note.
The risk, he went on to say, will come from weakening global growth due to the trade war and geopolitical uncertainty, including the fear of the coronavirus outbreak, which will burden Indonesia's exports.
The central bank has injected about Rp 25 trillion (US$1.82 billion) into the country's financial markets as investors sell off assets over fears that the rapidly spreading coronavirus will hurt the global economy.
BI Governor Perry Warjiyo said on Wednesday that the central bank had been buying government bonds to stabilize prices and liquidity as the coronavirus scared off foreign investors.
"Do you know how many bonds we have bought from the government with the heavy capital inflow this year? The figure is close to Rp 25 trillion," Perry said during his remarks at the Mandiri Investment Forum on Wednesday.
He said the disturbance the virus was causing was not only happening in the spot market but also in the domestic non-deliverable forwards market.
Foreign investors dumped Indonesian stocks on the Indonesia Stock Exchange, recording a Rp 2.07 trillion net selloff in the regular market as of Thursday afternoon.
In addition to applying monetary policies, the central bank is cooperating with the government to maintain market stability. "We are working closely with the Finance Ministry to stabilize the market and prevent the short-term impact of the coronavirus," he said.
Factories are closing, and some workers have been told to work from home as the coronavirus outbreak impairs Chinese cities. As of Thursday morning, 563 had died from the illness with 28,256 cases having been reported. The virus is believed to have originated in Wuhan.