Mon, 24 May 2010

From: Reuters

JAKARTA, May 23 (Reuters) - Indonesian new finance minister has said he expects a swift start to the job and to continue reforms driven by his predecessor without fear of political pressure, Indonesian newspaper Rakyat Merdeka reported on Sunday.

Agus Martowardojo, appointed last week, replaced reformist technocrat Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who leaves for a new job at the World Bank following a campaign to oust her by politicians opposed to her anti-graft reforms.

Chief among her detractors was the Golkar party, headed by lawmaker and businessman Aburizal Bakrie, whose family companies were pursued by Indrawati for alleged tax evasion.

"If I am trusted by the president to replace Sri Mulyani, then of course I promise to proceed with all the programmes underway," he was quoted saying in the Indonesian-language newspaper, Rakyat Merdeka.

"If, later, there is a transition period, as is often the case with new leadership, I expect it will not take up a lot of time."

Martowardojo, a career banker and former president director of state lender Bank Mandiri (BMRI.JK), said ensuring healthy tax revenue was "the most important thing".

"We need to create a healthy development climate in Indonesia and ensure all businesses in Indonesia pay their tax and are aware of tax," he said.

When asked about the tax investigations of Bakrie-linked companies, Martowardojo said he did not know the details of the case.

"But what I would like to stress is that in collecting tax, we begin with the companies that are most likely to have a tax obligation. And these tax obligations we prepare so that the business climate remains healthy," he said.

"In this way, the business community has certainty in their work. If that is achieved, then they will be capable of paying more tax."

He said he expected political pressure.

"I am not worried about the political pressure that accompanies my new task as finance minister. I am certain that with proper communication with all parties and functionaries, those pressures will be reduced," he said.