INDONESIA'S Finance Minister denied yesterday that he was being pushed out his job, dismissing speculation that he was being shifted to the post of central bank governor because he had crossed swords with politically powerful businessmen.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last week unexpectedly nominated Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo to replace Darmin Nasution, whose term as Bank Indonesia governor ends in May.
There has been no clear explanation from the presidential palace why either man is moving from his current job, nor who will be the new finance minister if Agus is approved by Parliament to head Bank Indonesia.
Members of parliament will debate Agus' candidacy later next month, and some have questioned his suitability for the job.
Asked if he had been the victim of vested political or business interests, the finance minister said "No".
"(There was) no political pressure," Agus said on the sidelines of a conference. "It is an honour to be nominated as central bank governor."
Earlier, Vice-President Boediono, himself a former central bank governor, said Bank Indonesia needed a safe pair of hands to replace the outgoing governor.
Agus, 57, took over as finance minister in 2010 to oversee one of the world's fastest growing economies and before that headed the biggest state-controlled bank, Bank Mandiri.
The uncertainty over who will lead Bank Indonesia has caused little concern in the financial markets. Indonesia's benchmark stock index closed at a record high for the second consecutive day, up 1.68 percent, or 79.37 points, at 4,795.79.
A parliamentary commission has the final say over who heads the central bank. One commission member said Agus, a career banker, lacked macro-economic expertise and another that there were doubts over his integrity.
But the chairman of the commission, Emir Moeis, has said he was in favour of the finance minister's switch to the central bank.
There has been speculation that Agus was being pushed from the Cabinet because of his very public opposition to two major issues involving influential businessmen.
One relates to his insistence that the central government buy a stake in a gold mining company, an issue which involves the Bakrie family. One of the Bakrie brothers is the Golkar Party's presidential candidate.
Another concerns a project to build a bridge linking the islands of Java and Sumatra.
Agus has opposed the project, which is headed by wealthy businessman Tommy Winata, in its current form. Reuters