Indonesia to select new head of financial authority this week

JAKARTA, June 5 (Reuters) - A finance committee in Indonesia’s parliament on Monday grilled two candidates vying to head the country’s financial regulator ahead of a vote on the powerful post this week.

The finance commission will vote on Thursday for the chairman of the Financial Services Authority (OJK), who will steer an industry estimated to be worth $1.2 trillion.

The commission’s choice will still need the approval of the overall parliament, but its endorsement is usually accepted.

Former central bank official, Wimboh Santoso, and banker, Sigit Pramono, appeared before the commission for a combined five hours on Monday.

The two beat hundreds of candidates in a government-run selection process before facing parliamentarians.

Santoso proposed that under his leadership the OJK could help to promote growth outside the big cities and also the densely populated Java island.

“The policies will be directed at pockets of the economy that still grow slowly and have a high poverty rate,” he said, adding that the regulator should seek to promote the use of technology to help widen financial access in more remote areas across the archipelago.

Pramono pledged to intensify OJK’s supervision of what he called systemically important banks.

He also recommended that Indonesia’s implementation of Basel III be relaxed to allow banks to use more capital to grow, instead of setting capital aside for reserves.

Santoso, who has been president commissioner of state-controlled Bank Mandiri since 2015, was previously a career central banker. His last position with Bank Indonesia was as the head of its New York branch before he moved to the International Monetary Fund to become the executive director of the Southeast Asia voting group.

Pramono is the chairman of the non-profit education organisation, Indonesian Institute for Corporate Directorship. He previously worked with Indonesia’s biggest banks, including Bank Central Asia as an independent commissioner and Bank Negara Indonesia as chief executive, while he also served as chairman of Indonesia’s banking association. (Reporting by Hidayat Setiaji; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)