(Adds stock market, background)
By Neil Chatterjee
JAKARTA Feb 28 Indonesia's finance minister
denied on Thursday that he was being pushed out his job,
dismissing speculation that he was being shifted to the post of
central bank governor because he had crossed swords with
politically powerful businessmen.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last week unexpectedly
nominated Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo to replace Darmin
Nasution, whose term as Bank Indonesia governor ends in May.
There has been no clear explanation from the presidential
palace why either man is moving from his current job, nor who
would be the new finance minister if Martowardojo is approved by
parliament to head Bank Indonesia.
Members of parliament will debate Martowardojo's candidacy
later next month, and some have questioned his suitability for
Asked if he had been the victim of vested political or
business interests, the finance minister said "No".
"(There was) no political pressure," Martowardojo told
reporters on the sidelines of a conference. "It is an honour to
be nominated as central bank governor."
FOR AND AGAINST
Earlier, Vice President Boediono, himself a former central
bank governor, told Reuters that Bank Indonesia needed a safe
pair of hands to replace the outgoing governor.
Martowardojo, 57, took over as finance minister in 2010 to
oversee one of the world's fastest growing economies and before
that headed the biggest state-controlled bank, Bank Mandiri
The uncertainty over who will lead Bank Indonesia has caused
little concern in the financial markets. Indonesia's benchmark
stock index is set to close at a record high for the second
consecutive day, up 1.3 percent at 4,777.86 in late trading on
A parliamentary commission has the final say over who heads
the central bank. One commission member said Martowardojo, a
career banker, lacked macro-economic expertise and another that
there were doubts over his integrity.
But the chairman of the commission, Emir Moeis, has said he
was in favour of the finance minister's switch to the central
There has been speculation that Martowardojo was being
pushed from the cabinet because of his very public opposition to
two major issues involving influential businessmen.
One relates to his insistence that the central government
buy a stake in a gold mining company, an issue which involves
the Bakrie family. One of the Bakrie brothers is the Golkar
Party's presidential candidate.
Another concerns a project to build a bridge linking the
islands of Java and Sumatra. Martowardojo has opposed the
project, which is headed by wealthy businessman Tommy Winata, in
its current form.
(Reporting by Neil Chatterjee; Writing by Randy Fabi and
Jonathan Thatcher; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)