Welcome to the Outlook 2017 issue. What’s ahead in the next year? As per tradition, a group of experts weigh in with their learned views on sectors as diverse as property and the Internet economy. The one wild card is the U.S. presidential election, which will be held just after this issue goes to press. Yet, in many regards, the outcome of the vote could be a non-event for Indonesia. The country has been blessed with strong internal momentum to drive much of its growth in recent years, so the impact of a political decision made half a world away, even if it is to pick the U.S. President, may have a muted influence.
The package of the outlook within these pages comes from some of our regular columnists, who normally cover topics of their fancy within their sectors, but for this issue were asked to write special columns for this issue with forecasts for 2017. Therefore, it is a good mixture of varied opinions, all coming from top experts. To be sure, it’s easy to be optimist, when the country is coming off a relatively low base, as growth dipped below 5% for the first time in nearly a decade.
The first hurdle to pass is a relatively easy one. This year, as BKPM’s head, Thomas Lembong, has noted, Indonesia needs simply to go back to its average growth around 5%. However, the Joko “Jokowi” Widodo administration has bigger dreams—to achieve growth of 7%. As the country’s economy grows bigger, Indonesia’s challenge to reach higher growth rates goes up—the bigger the ship, the more energy to move it faster.
Yet to be sure, Indonesia still has plenty of potential, momentum and opportunity. The factors in favor of higher growth are very much in place, such as a favorable demographics. There’s even talk that the long imbalance between supply and demand in the commodities markets, at least in coal, may finally be reaching parity. One of these factors to reach higher growth is political will, and this president is known for focusing on results over hyperbole. He seems to be making good headway, and is garnering a growing respect in the international community. He also has made some excellent personnel choices in his cabinet, including the reappointment of Sri Mulyani Indrawati to the finance minister. Again, as mentioned before, all of this will become increasingly significant as Indonesia’s rank and stature among the world’s economies rises. It is inevitable that what transpires here year and into the future will become the focus of increased interest and given more importance by the global community, an attention which Indonesia justly deserves.