2018 OECD Economic Surveys: Indonesia 2018

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Indonesia's steady economic growth, with help from government policies, has raised incomes and lowered poverty rates to record lows. Prudent macroeconomic policies have contributed to economic stability, muted inflation and limited government debt. However, government infrastructure investment and social spending is constrained by low revenues. There is ample scope to grow revenues by strengthening the tax administration to raise compliance and broadening tax bases. Indonesia has a youthful population that will boost growth in coming years. Reaping the benefits requires shifting the employment mix towards better jobs in the formal sector. That, in turn, means tackling informality and raising skill levels, including through further structural reforms and better quality education. Indonesia's wealth of natural resources and rich cultural diversity offer many opportunities to grow tourism across the country. The recent surge in arrivals is generating export revenue but it is also increasing pressure on the environment. Developing tourism more sustainably will involve investing in skills and supporting infrastructure accompanied by local stakeholder involvement.


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Raising more public revenue in a growth- and equity-friendly way

Indonesia’s government needs more revenue to fund spending that can boost GDP growth, raise well-being and reduce poverty. The tax-to-GDP ratio is low relative to other emerging market economies. The difficulty is to raise revenues without denting growth or worsening inequality. Successive reforms have modernised the tax administration and increased the number of taxpayers. Nonetheless, raising compliance is an ongoing challenge. Investing in the tax administration, particularly human resources and information systems, rightly remains a government priority. This will help ease compliance costs and strengthen enforcement, raising revenue. There is also scope to improve the design of various taxes. Broadening the bases of income and consumption taxes would raise more revenue and reduce distortions. Expanding property taxation, if appropriately implemented, could provide additional funds for local governments, which have substantial responsibilities in Indonesia’s decentralised system of delivering government services. Taxes can also be used more extensively to discourage activities and behaviours with negative health and environmental externalities. Strengthening property rights and fighting illegal extraction would increase revenues from Indonesia’s natural resource wealth.



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