Jakarta. Indonesia’s foreign debt grew at a slower pace in the second quarter of 2015, with the private sector reluctant to take on more debt amid rising risks stemming from sluggish economic growth and a weak currency.
The country’s total foreign debt rose by 6.3 percent to $304.3 billion in the April-to-June period, compared to the same period a year ago, according to data from Bank Indonesia on Wednesday. The growth was slower than the 7.9 percent pace the previous quarter.
“There can be two reasons, such as the rupiah’s weak exchange rate against the US dollar that made people revisit their plan to add more loans and a slower economic growth that pushed down the demand for loans,” Tirta Segara, an executive director at Bank Indonesia, said on Wednesday.
The country’s economy grew at its slowest pace since 2009, at 4.67 percent in the second quarter, amid weak exports and low government spending. The rupiah has weakened by 2.1 percent against the US dollar in the past week, as the greenback gained strength following China's surprise devaluation of the yuan.
Slowing economic growth undermines Indonesia’s ability to pay back debt, with its debt service ratio (DSR), or percentage of overseas revenue used to repay debt, dropping slightly to 56.3 percent in the second quarter from 56.9 percent in the first quarter.
Foreign debt by the government and the central bank rose by 1.35 percent to $134.6 billion in the second quarter, slower than the 1.7 percent pace in the first quarter. Meanwhile, private companies’ foreign debt also increased at a slower pace, 9.7 percent, to $169.7 billion, compared to the 13 percent pace in the first quarter of 2015.
Still, most of the overseas debt taken on by both public and private sectors are long-term debts, which are due in more than a year’s time.
Public sector long-term debt reached $131.3 billion, or 97.6 percent of the total public sector external debt. The long-term external debt of the private sector stood at $127.4 billion, or 75 percent of the total private external debt.
Companies in the financial, manufacturing, electricity, gas and water sectors incurred the most debt in the second quarter this year.
Bank Indonesia said it would monitor private companies’ foreign debt development so it would “help finance the country's development without adding risks that can affect macroeconomic stability.”