Mon, 14 Aug 2000

Finance Minister Bambang wants to retain his job

YOGYAKARTA (JP): Minister of Finance Bambang Sudibyo hinted on Saturday that he still wanted to retain his position in the Cabinet to allow him to accomplish his unfinished works.

"I have many important works in the Ministry of Finance particularly in connection with adjusting the state budget in line with the inter-governmental fiscal law," he told reporters after attending a ceremony at the Mada University (UGM).

Bambang, who was a senior lecturer in the economics department at the university before being appointed as the finance minister, said implementation of the new law should not be delayed in order to reduce the financial gap between the central government and provincial administrations.

The law, which will be effective beginning next year, also regulates the distribution of state funds among regencies in a province.

However, when asked if he had the chance to maintain his position in the planned Cabinet reshuffle, Bambang said that he was not sure.

The media has speculated that the finance minister would follow Coordinating Minister for Economy and Trade Kwik Kian Gie's resignation move.

"I would still be willing to join the new Cabinet but it would depend on what portfolio the President offered me," he told reporters following a meeting with his political mentor and Speaker of the People's Legislative Assembly (MPR) Amien Rais.

On the same occasion, political analyst Prof. Ichlasul Amal asserted that it was President Abdurrahman Wahid who had the right to judge Bambang's performance and to decide whether Bambang should remain in his current post or not.

Amal, who is also rector of Gadjah Mada University, said that the university would not be disappointed if Bambang was excluded from the Cabinet. "UGM has nothing to do with the election of Bambang as finance minister."

The Association of Indonesian Economists (ISEI) suggested in a letter sent to the President on Friday that Bambang be retained as finance minister.

ISEI said that Bambang had worked hard to introduce the regional economic policy and retaining him would facilitate the smooth implementation of the policy.

But many financial experts said that Bambang should be replaced because he lacked experiences and knowledge in macroeconomics.

According to Bank Indonesia's acting governor Anwar Nasution, as an accountant, Bambang would be more suitable to lead the Indonesia Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA). (44/hen)