Indonesian President Joko Widodo reshuffles Cabinet to position country for strong economic growth

 Indonesian President Joko Widodo (seventh from left) and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla (seventh from right) pose with the new members of his cabinet at the presidential palace in Jakarta on July 27, 2016.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (seventh from left) and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla (seventh from right) pose with the new members of his cabinet at the presidential palace in Jakarta on July 27, 2016.PHOTO: AFP
Indonesia's new cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati (fifth from left) and  Coordinating Minister for Legal, Security and Politics Wiranto (fourth from right), pose for photos during a press conference at Merdeka Palace
Indonesia's new cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati (fifth from left) and Coordinating Minister for Legal, Security and Politics Wiranto (fourth from right), pose for photos during a press conference at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on July 27, 2016. PHOTO: EPA
Security Minister Wiranto (right) with Finance Minister Sri Mulyani at the press conference announcing Indonesia's new Cabinet ministers, at the presidential palace in Jakarta on July 27, 2016.
Security Minister Wiranto (right) with Finance Minister Sri Mulyani at the press conference announcing Indonesia's new Cabinet ministers, at the presidential palace in Jakarta on July 27, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA -  President Joko Widodo on Wednesday (July 27) named a new Cabinet in a bid to tackle Indonesia's income inequality as well as to position the country for strong economic growth.

Among the key changes is the appointment of Dr Sri Mulyani Indrawati, currently Managing Director at World Bank, to the post of Finance Minister. 

To lead his master plan of turning Indonesia into a maritime superpower, the president also sent political strongman Luhut Pandjaitan, from the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, to take over Mr Rizal Ramli as Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs.

Mr Luhut will be replaced by former general Wiranto who ran for president in 2004.

Mr Joko, who is better known by his moniker Jokowi, told the media during the announcement of his second Cabinet reshuffle in two years, that Indonesia must continue to tackle poverty and the economic inequality.

"In the last two years, we have faced many challenges that were not easy," he said. "We must accelerate efforts to deal with the problem (of poverty), we must accelerate economic growth in the face of global weakness and at the same time, global competitiveness. We must create more jobs, to create wealth."

 

He added that he needs a working Cabinet that is able to adapt to the changes quickly and produce "concrete and fast" results.

"With those reasons in mind, I and the Vice-President have decided to reshuffle the Cabinet," he added.

There are a total of nine new faces, including Dr Sri Mulyani, who had also served as  Finance Minister from 2005 to 2010 during the presidency of Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

She takes over from Mr Bambang Brodjonegoro, who will head the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas).

Other new faces leading key ministries are Dr Arcandra Tahar (Energy Minister), Mr Budi Karya Sumadi (Transportation Minister), Mr Muhadjir Effendy (Education Minister), Dr Enggartiasto Lukita (Trade Ministry),  Mr Eko Putro (Rural and Transmigration Minister), Mr Asman Abnur (Bureaucratic Reform Minister) as well as Mr Airlangga Hartarto (Industry Ministry).

Mr Airlangga is a former lawmaker from Golkar, the second largest political party in Indonesia, which recently moved from the opposition coalition to back the Jokowi government.

Many observers were surprised that Mr Luhut was moved out of the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, although some analyst believe it was part of the president's strategy to push forward his maritime master plan.

"The maritime coordinating ministry has huge tasks ahead as Jokowi shifts from a land-centric strategy to a more maritime-centric one, as such, he will need a strong, experienced visionary who understands the president well and Luhut is the man he requires," said Mr Ali Nurdin, a political analyst at Mathla'ul Anwar University.

A welcome move was the appointment of Dr Sri Mulyani, whom Forbes magazine ranked 37th in its annual list of 100 most powerful women of 2016, which features upcoming industry leaders in the field of business, entrepreneurship, investing, science and philanthrophy.

The reshuffle has been the subject of public discourse and gossip for months but it gained traction after the Aidilfitri celebrations earlier this month.

Observers have said the Cabinet shake-up reflects Mr Jokowi's consolidation of power after he secured the support of Golkar and an intra-movement of ministers to drive his policy agenda for the rest of his term.

NEW FACES AND NEW POSITIONS:

Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita

Rural and Transmigration Minister Eko Putro

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto

Bureaucratic Reform Minister Asman Abnur

Industry Minister Airlangga Hartanto

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan

Energy and Mineral Resource Minister Arcandra Tahar

Land and Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil

Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi

Investment Coordinating Agency Thomas Lembong

Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy

National Development Planning Agency head Bambang Brodjonegoro