Finance Minister Sri Mulyani will fight to the end to stay in office, if the reports are true, but there is speculation, mainly from Golkar sources, that the country’s reform icon will be replaced by February when the politicians arrange an exit strategy to end the Century bailout case.
Golkar Party’s officials, who are close to party chairman Aburizal Bakrie, said here Sunday that Aburizal may have reached agreement with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to replace Mulyani with the head of the Fiscal Policy Agency, Anggito Abimanyu.
Anggito is considered to be close to both Aburizal and Coordinating Minister Economic Hatta Rajasa, one of the President’s most trusted aides, said anonymous sources.
A Golkar member at the House of Representatives’ inquiry committee told The Jakarta Post that he was convinced Mulyani would go.
“We do not even need to have a deal for [replacing Mulyani],” said the member, who was only willing to give his insight under anonymity.
Several other sources also said that Yudhoyono was, apparently, disappointed with Mulyani’s decision to salvage Bank Century using Rp 6.76 trillion (US$736.84 million) in bailout funds during a meeting with then Bank Indonesia governor and current Vice President, Boediono, in November 2008.
The disappointment, the sources said, was more because of Mulyani’s failure to consult with the President on the bailout, although she insisted during House questioning that she had reported all her moves.
Mulyani has had her share of rows with Aburizal in the past. In late 2008, Mulyani opposed Aburizal’s call for closure of the Indonesian Stock Exchange (IDX) to halt a nosedive in the shares of Bumi Resources, partly owned by him.
In 2008, Mulyani also imposed a travel ban on coal-mining executives, including some from Aburizal’s companies, after a dispute over reluctance to pay government taxes.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mulyani said she believed her past actions had made Aburizal very unhappy with her.
A Golkar member on the committee, Bambang Soesatyo, said that his party believed Mulyani had violated an administrative regulation by failing to report bailout details immediately to both the President and then vice president, Jusuf Kalla.
But a member of Golkar’s executive central board, Zaenal Bintang, said that when the inquiry was established, Sri Mulyani had launched her attack on Aburizal by ordering the taxation office to probe the tax reports of his companies.
He also said that if there was a deal to sacrifice Mulyani, then making it materialize would be easier said than done.
“My sources told me that Mulyani had gathered a number of her closest friends, families and aides in a closed meeting. During that meeting, Mulyani told her closest associates that should she fall, she would not fall alone,” he said.
“Recently, Jusuf Kalla told the inquiry that Sri Mulyani once met him and said that she felt as if she was being fooled by BI over the bailout. Indirectly speaking, she pointed her finger at Boediono.”
“So, as you can see, taking down Sri Mulyani will not be easy. In every move she makes, there will always be another potential victim to fall as well,” he said.