NEW REGULATION RESTRICTS FOREIGN CURRENCY USE IN INDONESIA
Tuesday, 04 August 2015
a prohibition on the use of foreign currency for pricing goods and/or services, and
a requirement to use Indonesian Rupiah for a broad range of non-cash transactions, including transactions using electronic payments or bank transfers.
This has been done through a new regulation issued by Bank Indonesia (BI), Indonesia’s central bank, on 31 March 2015 that imposes more stringent restrictions on the use of foreign currency than those currently provided under Indonesia’s Currency Law. The Regulation No. 17/3/PBI/2015 regarding the Obligation to Use Rupiah in the Republic of Indonesia (BI Regulation) implements Law No. 7 of 2011 on Currency (Currency Law).
Failure to comply can result in criminal or administrative sanctions, so it is important to ensure all foreign currency denominated transactions comply with the new regulation.
Bank Indonesia may revisit this requirement if it raises practical difficulties in business continuity and national economic growth. The BI Regulation is, however, silent on how BI might do that. We expect this issue to be clarified in a future BI Circular Letter to implement the new Regulation.
The BI Regulation reiterates the exceptions under the Currency Law from the requirement to use Indonesian Rupiah for certain transactions, which are:
- Transactions to implement the State budget;
- Grants from or to Indonesia;
- International trade transactions;
- Bank deposits denominated in foreign currencies; and
- International finance transactions.
Additional exceptions under the BI Regulation include:
- Foreign exchange transactions by licensed Indonesian banks in line with Indonesia’s Banking Law and Sharia Banking Law;
- Transactions related to commercial papers issued by the Indonesian Government in a foreign currency denomination under the Sovereign Bonds Law and Sovereign Sharia Commercial Papers Law;
- Foreign exchange transactions conducted in accordance with any Indonesian laws, such as under foreign investment laws for the purpose of repatriation; and
- Foreign exchange transactions which relate to strategic infrastructure projects. A strategic infrastructure project can be exempted if approved by BI based on a statement by the relevant authorities.
Limited scope of international trade transactions
While the Currency Law did not define the scope of international trade, the BI Regulation provides that the use of foreign currency in international trade transactions is now only permitted for two types of transactions:
Export and/or import of goods to or from Indonesia (however supplemental activities to these transactions are not exempted); and cross-border trade in services involving cross-border supply or consumption abroad.
Contracts prior to July 2015
While the Currency Law indicated that any foreign currency payment would be permitted if this had previously been agreed in writing, the BI Regulation goes further. It only allows foreign currency payments for non-cash transactions that are exempt, regardless of the presence of a prior written agreement.
Existing contracts entered into prior to 1 July 2015 for non-cash transactions that are not exempt will remain in force until they expire. If the parties intend to use foreign currency for non-cash transactions that are not exempt (such as charter contracts), the relevant agreements will need to be signed before 1 July 2015. Meanwhile, any contract amendments made after 1 July 2015 will be subject to the BI Regulation requirements.
Failure to comply with the new requirements on cash transactions will lead to criminal sanctions under the Currency Law. Failure to comply with the new requirements on non-cash transactions will lead to administrative sanctions, including a fine of 1% of the transaction value up to a maximum fine of 1 billion Rupiah (approximately USD 78,000).
We expect BI to issue a Circular Letter to fully implement the BI Regulation soon. Pending its issuance, it would be prudent to consider what preparatory actions are needed. This would likely include finalising foreign currency denominated contracts before 1 July 2015. In addition, banks need to ensure that Indonesian borrowers that will be impacted have sufficient hedging arrangements in place.