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

Central bank

The candidate to become Indonesia's next central bank chief ran into opposition on Monday, as one member of a parliamentary commission that has the final word on selection questioned his integrity and another doubted his grasp of macroeconomics.

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.

The president has given no reason for pushing out Darmin, who is generally seen as having kept a firm hold on monetary policy, with inflation under control, though the 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.

Dolfi, a member of the opposition Democratic Party of Indonesia-Struggle (PDI-P) Indonesia, was referring to a corruption scandal surrounding the construction of the Halambang 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.

It is the second time Yudhoyono has nominated the career banker to head the central bank. Martowardojo was rejected in 2008, along with another candidate proposed by the president, though that was seen more as an attempt by parliament to flex its political muscle than any particular dislike of Agus.

Martowardojo, 57, took over as finance minister in 2010 from the reformist Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who fell foul of members of the business and political elite with her anti-corruption drive.

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