Kiki Siregar, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has announced new members of his Cabinet on Tuesday (Dec 22), ending months of speculation.
Among the new ministers are: Chief of the economic recovery task force Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Surabaya's mayor Tri Rismaharini and Mr Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, who was the running mate of presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto in 2019.
Mr Sadikin will replace Mr Terawan Agus Putranto as health minister after public criticism that the latter has fallen short in terms of handling COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, Indonesia has recorded more than 670,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, one of the highest in Asia.
Mdm Rismaharini replaces Mr Juliari Batubara as social affairs minister. Mr Batubara was arrested earlier this month for allegedly receiving US$1.2 million kickbacks from two contractors tasked with distributing aid to people affected by COVID-19.
Mr Uno has been appointed as the new tourism and creative economy minister, replacing Mr Wishnutama Kusubandio.
"The inauguration will be carried out, God willing, tomorrow morning (Wednesday)," said Mr Widodo.
Mr Muhammad Lutfi, the current Indonesian ambassador to the US, will take over as trade minister from Mr Agus Suparmanto.
Meanwhile, Mr Yaqut Cholil Qoumas will be the new religious affairs minister replacing Mr Fachrul Razi.
Mr Sakti Wahyu Trenggono, the current deputy defence minister, will replace Mr Edhy Prabowo as fisheries minister.
The latter was arrested in late November for allegedly receiving at least 3.4 billion rupiah (US$240,000) in a case involving the import of lobsters.
Some of these portfolios, including health, trade and tourism would be seen as critical in charting a pathway towards recovery from COVID-19.
The reshuffle ends months of speculation after Jokowi, as the Indonesian leader is popularly known, told his ministers in June that he was ready to change things because some had not done enough to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Then, Jokowi claimed that many of them were working as though things were normal. He said this had "irritated" him.
Mr Widodo also criticised the ministers for perceived slow government spending in the face of a global pandemic and economic crisis.