Indonesia forms new Investment Ministry in Cabinet reshuffle

Newly appointed Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia (in foreground), flanked by new Minister for Education, Culture, Research and Technology Nadiem Makarim and Dr Laksana Tri Handoko (far right), the new chief of the National Research Agency.
Newly appointed Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia (in foreground), flanked by new Minister for Education, Culture, Research and Technology Nadiem Makarim and Dr Laksana Tri Handoko (far right), the new chief of the National Research Agency. PHOTO: INDONESIA PRESIDENTIAL SECRETARIAT
The current Investment Coordinating Board chief Bahlil Lahadalia has been appointed investment minister.
The current Investment Coordinating Board chief Bahlil Lahadalia has been appointed investment minister.PHOTO: BAHLIL LAHADALIA/INSTAGRAM

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday (April 28) announced a new Investment Ministry and the merger of two other ministries, in an effort to enhance the ease of doing business in the country as it struggles to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Cabinet reshuffle, the second in four months, will see an upgrade of the bureaucratic status of the state agency, the Investment Coordinating Board, or the BKPM, to a ministry. The current BKPM chief Bahlil Lahadalia has been appointed Investment Minister.

The move will also see current Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim taking on a larger portfolio, following the merger of his ministry and the Ministry of Research and Technology. The new ministry will be known as Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology.

Mr Widodo, or Jokowi as he is better known, also appointed Indonesian Institute of Sciences head, Dr Laksana Tri Handoko, as the chief of the National Research Agency, or BRIN, to oversee research and innovation across the country.

BRIN, established in October 2019 at the start of Mr Widodo's second term and currently under the Research and Technology Ministry, will become an independent body directly reporting to the president.

All three men were sworn in on Wednesday at the presidential palace in Jakarta.

The new Investment Ministry is expected to lure investments into the country and create jobs.

South-east Asia's largest economy has been working to boost growth to around 5 per cent this year through direct investment, among other things. The government has introduced a slew of economic reforms to streamline overlapping and confusing regulations.

The Cabinet reshuffle is a president's prerogative and can be carried out at any time, but usually around a year after a Cabinet is installed.

Ministers are evaluated, and then moved to more suitable posts, or replaced if they did not perform well. The move was widely anticipated after the government-controlled House of Representatives, or DPR, approved the nomenclature changes to the ministries on April 9.

The latest reshuffle was relatively smaller than the first one done on Dec 22 last year, when a frustrated Mr Widodo replaced six ministers after months of berating his Cabinet's abysmal handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among the heads that rolled in December was health minister Terawan Agus Putranto, a military doctor. He was replaced by Mr Budi Gunadi Sadikin, who was deputy state-owned enterprises minister.

Mr Budi, a 56-year old former banker who was chief executive of Indonesia's biggest state-owned bank Bank Mandiri, is known to possess strong management skills and has been involved in Indonesia's lobbies to secure vaccines for its huge population.

Indonesia remains the country worst hit by Covid-19 in South-east Asia, with more than 1.6 million infections, including nearly 45,000 deaths.