Indonesian MPs air doubts over president's nominee for central bank

Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:53am EST
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By Rieka Rahadiana and Adriana Nino Kusuma

JAKARTA (Reuters) - The Indonesian president's candidate to become the next central bank chief ran into opposition on Monday, as two members of a parliamentary panel that decides on the selection questioned his suitability for the job.

Late on Friday, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono unexpectedly nominated Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo to replace Darmin Nasution, whose term as Bank Indonesia (BI) governor ends in May.

In his first public comments since being nominated, and which may rattle foreign investors, Martowardojo made clear that neighboring Singapore would have to open up to Indonesian banks if it expected to go ahead with the major purchase of a local bank -- a deal that needs central bank approval.

The president has given no reason for pushing out the current governor, generally seen as having kept a firm hold on monetary policy, with inflation under control, though the rupiah currency has weakened sharply during his tenure.

"For the BI governor nomination, we don't only look at technical capability. We also look at integrity and national interest. Agus Martowardojo's involvement in the Hambalang (graft) case makes us doubt his integrity," said Dolfi OFP, a member of the parliamentary commission on financial affairs. The commission has the final say in the selection.

The member of the opposition Indonesia Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) was referring to a corruption scandal surrounding the construction of the Hambalang sports complex.

The controversy has already toppled one minister and the chairman of Yudhoyono's ruling, but increasingly unpopular, Democratic Party.

Martowardojo was questioned last week by Indonesia's anti-corruption agency as a witness in relation to the case.   Continued...

Indonesia's Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo talks to reporters during the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Jakarta June 12, 2011. REUTERS/Beawiharta