Wed, 05 Apr 2000

Public firms no allowed to amortize forex losses

CISARUA, West Java (JP): The Capital Market Supervisory Agency (Bapepam) will no longer allow publicly listed companies to record part of their foreign exchange losses on future balance sheets.

Herwidayatmo, the chairman of the agency, said a regulation which allowed the companies to amortize part of their current foreign exchange losses in future financial statements would be revoked by the end of this month.

Bapepam issued in September 1998 a ruling allowing companies with huge foreign exchange losses to release part of the burden from the then current year's balance sheets by recording them in later years on financial statements.

The ruling was issued to save a large number of listed companies from being technically bankrupt due to heavy losses in foreign exchange.

Most of the country's publicly listed companies suffered losses in 1998 due to a sharp increase in U.S. dollar-denominated debts in rupiah terms.

Before the crisis broke out in mid-1997 the rupiah exchange rate was at 2,300 per dollar, but it plunged to between 8,500 and Rp 10,000 in 1998.

Herwidayatmo said although he understood the rule would help companies to reduce their debt burden, it was not in line with international accounting standards.

He also stressed that the revocation would not be retroactive.

"Those companies that already had their foreign exchange losses amortized for a period of some years do not have to restate their 1998 financial statement because of the revocation," he said at a macroeconomic seminar recently held here by Bank Indonesia, a private think-tank organization Center for Public Policy Study (LPKP) and

However, Herwidayatmo said there was one company that wanted to restate its 1998 financial statement and cancel the amortization of its foreign exchange loss.

"That is PT Astra International. The new shareholders of Astra came to me and asked for permission to restate the company's 1998 financial statement to reflect the internationally accepted accounting standard of reporting," he said.

"The current foreign exchange loss amortization rule does not reflect the true condition of a company, so we do not want to let it apply to Astra's financial statement," Herwidayatmo said, quoting the new shareholders of Astra who came to him last week.

Herwidayatmo said by restating its 1998 financial statement Astra might have a higher net loss in 1998 as a result, but would consequently have a fatter net income for 1999.

"Because Astra is recording all its losses in the year it occurred, in 1998, and canceling the partial foreign exchange loss burden previously claimed in 1999," he said.

Herwidayatmo said the agency was also preparing rules on procedures for opening branch offices by securities companies and restricting people included on the government's official list of people with bad records, or locally known as DOT, to sit in key positions of securities companies.

In addition, the agency is mulling new rules in its effort to accommodate local start-up Internet companies on local stock exchanges.

"Local Internet companies should also have their place here. If not they will go to Hong Kong, Singapore or Nasdaq (United States) for their share listing," he said. (udi)