JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s president plans this week to name a new finance minister to oversee Southeast Asia’s largest economy, acting finance minister Hatta Rajasa said on Monday, with Investment Chief Chatib Basri seen as the leading contender.
However, Basri declined to say if he would be appointed the next finance minister, telling Reuters “let’s wait for the announcement from the president.”
If confirmed, the 47-year-old would replace Rajasa after less than a month at the helm.
Rajasa took on the acting role after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s surprise decision in February to nominate then-finance minister, Agus Martowardojo, as the sole candidate to head the central bank. Bank Indonesia Governor Darmin Nasution’s five-year term ends on May 22.
If appointed, one of Basri’s first major challenges would be how to soften the impact of fuel subsidies which have driven a hole in the budget. So far the government has dithered at major changes, fearful of adding to inflation and nervous of the social tension an increase could trigger.
Basri, who has a doctorate in economics, served as special adviser to former finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati before becoming Indonesia’s investment chief in October 2011.
He has also served on the regional advisory board of Toyota Motor Asia, independent commissioner for PT Astra International, cement producer PT Semen Indonesia and coal producer PT Indika Energy.
Reporting by Rieka Rahadiana and Jakarta bureau; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Shri Navaratnam