Kalla claims innocence in bailout, points finger at Sri Mulyani
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His story: Former vice president Jusuf Kalla gives his side of the story during a hearing with lawmakers about the Bank Century bailout. The hearing was held on Wednesday to clarify the controversial Rp 6.7 trillion bailout for the bank in 2008. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)
Former Vice President Jusuf Kalla claimed that he had no hand in the government’s decision to use Rp 6.7 trillion (US$710.2 million) of public money to save the floundering Bank Century in 2008, and singled out then finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati as the main culprit.
Responding to Kalla’s claim, the House of Representatives Bank Century bailout monitoring team decided to summon Sri Mulyani to a future hearing.
According to Kalla, the 2008 Regulation on the Financial System Safety Net (JPSK), signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, granted Sri Mulyani full authority to disburse unlimited amounts and issue a blanket guarantee for the troubled bank.
“The regulation was unfair not only because it allowed the finance minister to spend as much money as needed [to save the troubled bank] but because it exempted her from accountability for the spending,” Kalla said in a meeting with the team on Wednesday.
Kalla said that the fundamental flaw in the regulation was that it gave Sri Mulyani an authority greater than the President’s. The 2003 State Treasury Law stipulates that the President could bail a bank out up to a maximum of Rp 100 billion.
During the four-hour meeting, Kalla repeatedly emphasized that he never gave his approval for the disbursement of the funds.
“Three ministers, the finance minister, the state secretary, state enterprises minister, together with the former Bank Indonesia governor, came to me on Oct. 13, 2008, at around 7 a.m. to persuade me of the urgency of issuing a blanket guarantee [to save Bank Century].
“I objected to such a plan because it would rob the state. It’s unfair to burden the state of the problems of a private bank,” Kalla said, referring respectively to Sri Mulyani, Hatta Rajasa, Sofyan Djalil and now Vice President Boediono.
He said that even without his approval, two days later on Oct. 15, the government issued the bailout regulation, signed by Yudhoyono, who was on a trip overseas.
“The President was overseas between Oct. 13 and Oct. 25 and, as vice president, I was supposed to be responsible for anything that happened in this country. However, the issuance of the regulation was out of my reach.
“For me the regulation was the ultimate weapon used by anyone interested in saving the bank,” Kalla said.
Kalla said that he was present at a meeting in the State Palace on Oct. 6 for when the blanket guarantee plan was first floated, but he was not invited to another meeting on Oct. 9.
“I would definitely have canceled all my meetings on any day I received an invitation from the President. Who would dare refuse the President’s summons?” Kalla said.
Kalla’s statement drew an immediate response from Democratic Party lawmakers, accusing him of misleading the team.
“You had other meetings on Oct. 9, including ones with Kuntoro Mangkusubroto and Muslim scholar Anies Baswedan. So, why must you specially highlight the fact that you were not invited by the President?” queried Democratic Party lawmaker Achsanul Qosasi.
Chairman of the Democratic Party faction at the House Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, repeatedly reminded Kalla of his “good relationship” with Yudhoyono.
“The President need not involve the vice president in every single meeting that he sets up,” she said.
As a conclusion to the meeting the monitoring team [on Century Bailout] agreed to summon Sri Mulyani, now the Managing Director of World Bank, to a meeting in mid-October.