Sat, 04 Aug 2001

President endorses caretaker ministers' crucial rulings

JAKARTA (JP): In an about-face, President Megawati Soekarnoputri has approved all crucial decisions made by the current caretaker ministers, including one to stop a contract with PT Sucofindo, an export inspection company.

Outgoing Vice President secretary Bambang Kesowo said on Friday that caretaker ministers had reported all critical decisions directly to the President and they were approved before they were announced to the public.

"There will be no problems at all, because as it was announced earlier, all decisions had been reported by the related ministers to the President," Bambang said.

Megawati assumed power on July 23 and suspended the Cabinet until a new one could be formed.

The President announced a few hours after she was sworn into office that all caretaker ministers should not make any important decisions until a new Cabinet was formed.

However, caretaker finance minister Rizal Ramli decided that the government, through the offices of customs and excise, would take over the export inspection services of state-owned surveyor firm PT Sucofindo.

The government refused to extend Sucofindo's contract, which expired on July 31, so inspection services have fallen back into the hands of the customs and excise office.

Caretaker minister of justice and human rights Mahfud MD also made a crucial decision on Thursday by installing a new warden at Cipinang State Penitentiary, Central Jakarta.

But Bambang noted, "The President had approved these decisions and the related ministers had reported them before they made any public announcements."

His statement followed pressure from the Association of Indonesian Exporters (GPEI) to annul the decision that returned the export inspection service to customs and excise.

On Thursday, GPEI chairman Amirudin Saud said he had sent a letter to the President urging her to again entrust Sucofindo with the inspection service.

He said exporters were satisfied with the service under Sucofindo, which took up the task in 1986.

The state-owned company assumed the service from customs and excise as part of the government's outsourcing drive to expedite the shipping of export goods.

However, the Indonesian Textile Association (API), a largely export-oriented industry, said on Friday that it did not object to customs and excise taking over the inspection service. (dja/bkm)