Veterans Sri Mulyani, Luhut to continue in new Indonesian Cabinet

Dr Sri Mulyani Indrawati had also served as finance minister in former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Cabinet, and is widely credited for stabilising state finances.
Dr Sri Mulyani Indrawati had also served as finance minister in former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Cabinet, and is widely credited for stabilising state finances.PHOTO: REUTERS

Both will stay in key roles as finance minister and coordinating maritime affairs minister respectively

Indonesian President Joko Widodo will retain seasoned hands Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Luhut Pandjaitan in his new Cabinet for his second and final term in office.

Dr Sri Mulyani will keep her old post as Finance Minister while Mr Luhut, Mr Joko's closest aide, will continue as Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister, but with the added responsibility to oversee investments in the country.

Mr Joko has been summoning candidates for interviews this week to fill his new Cabinet for the 2019-2024 term. He is expected to unveil the full line-up today.

Speaking to reporters outside the presidential palace yesterday after her meeting with Mr Joko, Dr Sri Mulyani said the President wants her to focus on creating jobs and opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The former World Bank managing director said consistent policies are needed to guard Indonesia's economy - South-east Asia's largest - against turbulent external factors.

"Indonesia today is facing a global economy that is very dynamic and uncertain," she said.

Dr Sri Mulyani had served as finance minister in former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Cabinet as well, and is widely credited for stabilising state finances.

"I am honoured to be given a chance to retain my role as Finance Minister. I will support the President's and Vice-President's goals to build a better Indonesia that has an efficient bureaucracy... is clean and free of corruption, and has good quality and inclusive growth," she said.

Dr Sri Mulyani said the President and her discussed how to drive growth using fiscal policies and also issues affecting the banking sector and capital markets.

 
 
 
 

Indonesia's economy has grown at about 5 per cent annually the past few years, despite global weaknesses and a protracted trade war between the United States and China.

Mr Joko is set to keep a third of his current 34-member Cabinet, including Dr Sri Mulyani and Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, The Straits Times reported last week.

As part of the Cabinet restructuring, there will be new ministerial posts with enlarged responsibilities.

While serving as coordinating minister for maritime affairs during Mr Joko's first term in office, Mr Luhut played a key, albeit unofficial role, in helping boost investments in the country. He will now oversee investments as part of his wider official portfolio.

Mr Luhut's achievements include turning a sleepy town in Central Sulawesi province into the world's largest nickel industrial park. This boosted the local economy as exports from the province jumped 16-fold over the past five years.

The Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park, located in the province's south-eastern district, drew investors from China, Japan and South Korea.

After meeting Mr Joko last night, Mr Luhut told reporters he will ensure Indonesia lures foreign investors, including sovereign wealth funds to invest money in Indonesia.

"We discussed investments in petrochemicals and biofuels in Indonesia as we want to reduce our energy imports," Mr Luhut said.

He added that the success of the Morowali project would be replicated in North Kalimantan, and attract investors from the US.

Other additions to the Cabinet include Mr Nadiem Makarim, the co-founder of ride-hailing firm Gojek, who has been tipped for a post in the new digital economy ministry or in education.

On Monday, former constitutional chief Mahfud MD said he was asked to join the Cabinet to help improve law enforcement in Indonesia.

He has been touted to be the next coordinating political, legal and security minister, which oversees the police and the armed forces.

National police chief general Tito Karnavian will be the Domestic Affairs Minister.

The Cabinet is expected to comprise a mix of professionals proposed by political parties, and other technocrats.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2019, with the headline 'Veterans Sri Mulyani, Luhut to continue in new Indonesian Cabinet'. Print Edition | Subscribe