Jokowi set to sack top officials who miss targets

Indonesian President Joko Widodo with Professor Din Syamsuddin, chairman of Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah, at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Tuesday. Mr Joko has been under pressure to revive the economy, and to reshuffle his Cabinet to in
Indonesian President Joko Widodo with Professor Din Syamsuddin, chairman of Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah, at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Tuesday. Mr Joko has been under pressure to revive the economy, and to reshuffle his Cabinet to include more members of his coalition. PHOTO: REUTERS/ANTARA FOTO

Indonesian Cabinet reshuffle likely as economy sputters

JAKARTA - Indonesia's President will soon fire several top government officials due to poor performance, Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto said yesterday, paving the way for a possible Cabinet reshuffle less than a year after taking office.

In a sign of frustration over a flagging economy and policymaking mired in red tape, President Joko Widodo has said he will this week evaluate his Cabinet's work so far.

"The President has been very clear that if his priorities are not implemented seriously, he has no doubts about replacing certain officials," Mr Andi told reporters at the state palace in the capital, Jakarta. "Just wait, there will be (officials) fired soon."

Among those who could lose their jobs are senior officials in ministries and directors at state-owned enterprises, he said.

The head of the state food procurement agency was sacked earlier this month, becoming the first Joko-era government official to be replaced for failing to meet targets.

Mr Joko is keen to appear more assertive after being criticised for several policy flip-flops and a perceived failure to stand up to vested interests.

"Let it be known that if things get (even more) difficult, I can fire the director-general, the people on the ground, even the minister," he said on Wednesday after discovering significant problems while inspecting Jakarta's main port, according to local media.

Since taking office in October, the President has come under fire for failing to revive an economy growing at its slowest pace in six years.

He has also come under pressure, notably from his own party, to reshuffle his Cabinet to include more members from his coalition.

Mr Joko was elected with the hope of hastening infrastructure development across the maritime, roads and logistics sector, but while he has been launching infrastructure projects, there has been little real progress.

In the meantime, his ministers continue to send out confusing signals as they play the blame game.

On Tuesday, Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel told foreign journalists that his biggest challenge in implementing trade policies was the coordination and lack of agreement among ministers.

"The mindset is sometimes different, and it is a challenge (for me) to convince them," he said on the sidelines of a talk.

The World Bank has projected that South-east Asia's largest economy will grow 4.7 per cent this year, below the government's estimate of 5.4 per cent.

Trade figures, which have shown a dip in both imports and exports, showed Indonesia's surplus continued to widen last month for the sixth straight month, at US$950 million (S$1.3 billion).

Imports plunged by 21.4 per cent from last year, in a sign of weakening consumer demand, while exports fell 15.2 per cent year on year to US$12.56 billion, according to data from the official statistics agency.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2015, with the headline 'Jokowi set to sack top officials who miss targets'. Print Edition | Subscribe