‘Distinguished economist’ Basri
Jakarta – Arabstoday
Indonesia\'s president on Monday named the country\'s investment chief as the new finance minister, putting him in charge of Southeast Asia\'s top economy at a time of major challenges.
Chatib Basri, who is
taking on the role ahead of elections in 2014, replaces Hatta Rajasa, who was stand-in finance minister for a few weeks after the previous incumbent left amid growing complaints about his reformist agenda.
The 47-year-old takes up the job as economic growth slows, the rupiah remains weak, the current account deficit widens and the government is poised to take the politically sensitive step of hiking fuel prices.
Announcing Basri\'s appointment, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono praised him as a \"distinguished economist\" whose time at the helm of the country\'s investment board coincided with a surge of foreign money into Indonesia.
\"Investment was the main support for the economy and remained relatively high as the world stayed in recession,\" he said.
Foreign companies have been flocking to the country of 240 million people, attracted by surging domestic consumption.
Basri, who has a doctorate in economics, said Yudhoyono had asked him to maintain a \"prudent approach to fiscal policy\" and focus on job creation.
\"The creation of new jobs is important, because if we have economic growth but it does not improve the welfare of the people then the benefits of growth haven\'t been fully felt.\"
One of his first major challenges will be to reduce the impact of the fuel hike, which is expected to affect millions of the country\'s poorest through more costly petrol and higher inflation.
While Indonesian growth remains robust despite slowing in recent months, investors remain wary of the difficult business environment, not least because the country changes its finance minister so often.
Basri, who previously served as an economic adviser to the government, will be the fourth person to have held the position in three years, including Rajasa\'s brief stint.
Rajasa was the temporary replacement for Agus Martowardojo, who is set to take over as head of the central bank.