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Prabowo weighs former minister, regulator chief for finance job, sources say

Reuters - April 1, 2024

Ananda Teresia and Stefanno Sulaiman, Jakarta – Indonesian financial regulator Mahendra Siregar and former finance minister Chatib Basri are among the top choices Prabowo Subianto is considering for the role of finance minister, sources close to the president-elect told Reuters.

Investors are closely watching Prabowo's pick for the key role after ratings agencies warned of the cost of the programs the president-elect had campaigned on, raising the risk of slippage in the country's hard-won record for fiscal discipline.

The former special forces commander and current defense minister will pick a professional with market credibility to head the finance ministry, said three sources, who all sought anonymity as the matter is a sensitive one.

"Mr. Prabowo prefers a future finance minister with great competence and well welcomed by market," one of the sources said.

Basri and Siregar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Basri, chairman of Indonesia's biggest lender Bank Mandiri, was finance minister in 2013 and 2014, navigating the "taper tantrum" that spurred capital outflows from emerging markets after the US Federal Reserve said it would taper its programme of quantitative easing.

A close friend of Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the current finance minister, who is well regarded by the markets, Basri is also co-chair of the Group of 20's pandemic fund that lends to countries to guard against future global health threats.

Siregar, the head of the financial services regulator, is a career diplomat who held many high-ranking government jobs, from investment board chief to deputy finance minister and Indonesia's ambassador to the United States.

One of the sources said other names in the fray were central bank governor Perry Warjiyo, deputy state-owned enterprises minister Kartika Wirjoatmodjo and former finance minister Bambang Brodjonegoro.

"Mr. Prabowo will scout as there's seven months left before the inauguration," one of the sources said, referring to the assessment among the candidates.

Warjiyo and Kartika did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Bambang declined to comment.

Sri Mulyani is not expected to keep her job due to differences with Prabowo over defense spending, which have increased significantly under Prabowo, two of the sources said.

Last month, the election commission officially announced Prabowo's victory in the Feb. 14 vote, but losing candidates have contested the result in the Constitutional Court.

The court is set to make a decision on April 22, with the election winner due to take up the job in October.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/indonesia/2024/04/01/prabowo-weighs-former-minister-regulator-chief-for-finance-job-sources-say.htm