Indonesia tries to assure banks they won't be penalised if research credible

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia's finance ministry sought on Wednesday (Jan 4) to assure banks and research firms that they will not be sanctioned for their assessment of the country as long as it is "credible".

Indonesia cut its business ties with JPMorgan Chase & Co because its research was "not credible and not objective", Mr Suahasil Nazara, head of the Ministry of Finance's fiscal policy office, told reporters.

Some analysts have said that the decision has raised concern about whether the government would penalise other research providers for reports that are deemed to be negative.

Mr Nazara dismissed such worries. "There is no need to be afraid as long as it's credible," he said. "The point is, don't worry, go ahead with an analysis of Indonesia's economy that is as credible as possible, by using the available data and facts."

In a note dated Nov 13, JPMorgan analysts downgraded their investment recommendation on Indonesia stocks to "underweight" from "overweight", citing higher risk premiums for emerging markets after Mr Donald Trump won the US presidential election.

Indonesia has dropped JPMorgan's services as a primary dealer for domestic sovereign bonds and as an underwriter for bonds sold to the global markets, Mr Nazara said.

The US bank is also no longer what Indonesia terms a perception bank.

The government said in a 2006 decree that perception banks are appointed by the finance minister to receive transfers of state revenue not related to imports, including tax, onshore excise and non-tax revenue.

JPMorgan is allowed to continue its business in the private sector, Mr Nazara said.

The government assurances are unlikely to dispel the worries. "This has made us more cautious although we'll still try our best to safeguard our research independence," said a Jakarta-based analyst at a foreign bank, who declined to be identified.