Wed, 22 Mar 2000

Fit & proper tests need clarification

JAKARTA (JP): Criteria for fit and proper tests in appointing top officials at state-owned firms needs clarification to avoid political interference, the Indonesian Society for Transparency (MTI) said on Tuesday.

MTI secretary-general Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas said any fit and proper test would be meaningless if its criteria was subject to political interests.

"Don't let the definition of fit mean fit with certain interest, instead of fit with the job," Erry said, following a MTI seminar on transparency in the appointment of public leaders.

Erry commented on the government's recent ruling that requires candidates for state-owned companies' board of directors to undergo fit and proper tests.

He said state firms were institutions concerned with economic productivity that should not face interference from political interests.

Erry said the entrance of political interests would only hamper the efficiency and performance of state firms, which in turn would slow the recovery of Indonesia's economy.

Erry is the president director of publicly listed state company PT Timah, which today ranks among the world's most efficient tin mining companies.

Major state companies, such as oil and gas company PT Pertamina, often became the target of political parties seeking to place their members in influential positions.

However, the deputy minister for control and supervision at the office of the State Minister of Investment and State Enterprises Development, Bacilius Ruru, said last month that the fit and proper test policy was not a ploy to block outside interference.

Bacilius said the government aimed at increasing the value of state firms by implementing good corporate governance, which only leaders with integrity and quality could bring.

There are 157 companies under the state ministry, eight of which are set for privatization this year, including fertilizer company PT Pupuk Kaltim, general mining company PT Aneka Tambang and coal mining company PT Batubara Bukit Asam.

In pushing for economic recovery, the government plans to raise some Rp 6.5 trillion (US$874 million) from privatization.

Erry said one way to determine whether a person was fit for the job would be to study his or her track record.

He said a candidate must show a record free of corruption, collusion and nepotism, followed by work experience suitable to the future position.

"I think it would be great if a future president director would announce his or her personal wealth to the public before being appointed," Erry said.

He said it would be even better if public accountants would audit the personal wealth of prospective appointees.

"But if that's too much to ask, then at least candidates should show a clean track record," he said.

Banking law expert and member of the National Ombudsman Commission Pradjoto said thus far the public disclosure of top government officials' wealth had yet to be introduced.

"Why is it that until now, we still haven't heard about any disclosure of wealth," he said, adding that knowing the candidates' academical, work and moral qualities was the purpose of having a fit and proper test.

However, he said, such an evaluation could only be conducted by people who were of integrity and had professional qualities.(bkm)