Jakarta – A legislator from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle has singled out Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto for criticism for allegedly feeding President Joko Widodo wrong information.
TB Hasanuddin’s remarks came after Jokowi erroneously said that the country still owed a debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), prompting a rebuke from his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Andi has defended Jokowi’s statement, saying that in 2009 Indonesia had 3.1 billion dollars categorised as a debt to the IMF in Bank Indonesia’s foreign loan statistics.
“What is disconcerting is that officials around the president are still immature. They don’t have experience in the government, especially the cabinet secretary who provides the president with information,” TB Hasanuddin, a former general who is now a legislator, told the SINDO newspaper.
Hasanuddin stopped short of suggesting what to do with the inexperienced presidential aides.
“It’s up to him what to do, [depending on] whether [the president] will exercise his right or [he] is comfortable with the current situation,” he was quoted as saying.
In a series of posts on Twitter and Facebook, former president SBY said Indonesia paid off all its debt to the IMF in 2006, two years after he took office.
Jokowi’s Finance Minister Bambang Brojonegoro and Vice President Jusuf Kalla also confirmed that Indonesia is no longer indebted to the IMF.
Bambang said US$ 2.9 billion cited by Andi Widjajanto as debt to the IMF is actually an international reserve asset, created by the financial institution to supplement its member countries’ official reserves.
Jokowi’s critics seized his apparent gaffe as another example of him being out of his depth. He has been criticized before for a series of policy decisions that appear to contradict his campaign promises.
These include an admission that he did not read a decree he signed himself increasing down payment to 211 million rupiah on private cars for over 500 state officials.
Between 1997 and 2003, the International Monetary Fund provided some $25 billion in loans to help Indonesia rescue its banking system and rehabilitate its economy following the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.