Cabinet Reshuffle: Improving Performance or Accommodating Politics?

Oleh Ade Wahyudi 17 Maret 2017

Dissatisfied with performance of several cabinet members, President JokoWidodo is planning a cabinet reshuffle.

Presiden Joko Widodo berbincang dengan sejumlah menteri hasil perombakan di Istana Negara. Biro Pers Sekretariat Presiden

Dissatisfied with performance of several cabinet members, President JokoWidodo is planning a cabinet reshuffle. The reshuffle also aims to accommodate the interests of Golkar and the National Mandate Party (PAN), which have U-turned to support the government.

News of a reshuffle surfaced last week. Katadata sources said that the President finalised his plan to revamp the cabinet in Bogor last Monday. Intensive meetings with party leaders were also held.

One target of the reshuffle is the economic team, which failed to achieve several of the government's economic targets. Economic growth in the first quarter of 2016 was 4.9 percent, below the targeted 5.2 percent. Tax revenue amounted to just 33 percent of this year's IDR 1,822.5 trillion target.

Based on information compiled by Katadata, the President plans to make changes to three economic ministerial posts. However the reshuffle is only likely to involve shifting ministerial positions, rather than sacking any ministers from the cabinet.

Katadata sources said that one option the President is considering is making Coordinating Minister for the Economy Darmin Nasution taking on the position of Minister of Finance as well. Current Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro would head up the Ministry of National Development Planning/National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas).

Sofyan is likely to be given the post of Minister of State Enterprises, replacing Rini Soemarno who will be the new Trade Minister or Head of the Tax Amnesty Monitoring Team.

Another option is to make Darmin Nasution the Minister of Finance, and give Rizal Ramli, currently the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, the post of Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs.

Outside the economic team, other ministers whose cabinet positions are at stake include Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Sudirman Said; Minister for Villages, Rural Development and Transmigration Marwan Jafar; Minister of Administrative and Bureaucratic ReformYuddy Chrisnandi; Transport Minister Ignatius Jonan; Minister of Cooperatives and Small, Medium Enterprises Anak Agung Gede Ngurah Puspayoga; and Minister for Agrarian Affairs Ferry Mursidan Baldan.

The reshuffle has also been prompted by the President's desire to compensate Golkar and PAN for their support for the government. Golkar has reportedly proposed three names to the President. These include former minister under the Soeharto government, Siswono Yudo Husodo; and former Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cabinet, Sharif Cicip Sutarjo. The third person is Golkar Party Secretary General Idrus Marham.

PAN is also said to have submitted several names including the party's Deputy Chair Didik J. Rachbini.

Although no date has been set, it was rumoured that the cabinet reshuffle would take place last week. However, latest reports suggest that Widodo has changed his mind and will wait until October. Tempo magazine reported that Widodo wants to wait until his second term in office to avoid public unrest.

If the reshuffle is carried out, it will be Widodo's second. His first was in August 2015.

Plans for a cabinet reshuffle aside, the Widodo administration is also being plagued by insufficient inter-ministerial coordination. His cabinet ministers are even engaging in media debate about a variety of problems, while many of their targets remain unmet.

The inclusion of Golkar and PAN in the cabinet will strengthen political support for the government, especially from the House of Representatives (DPR).It would make it easier for the government to get their programs approved by the parliament.

However, this will give Widodo fewer openings to appoint professionals to cabinet positions. It will also undermine public support for the President, for breaking his campaign promise of not giving away cabinet positions to political parties.

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