Patutlah barangkali bila kita bertanya-tanya, di masa krisis seperti ini dan
juga di masa lalu, dari mana sebagian penjabat dan keluarganya masih
mendapatkan kesejahteraan yang wah — dengan pendapatan resmi yang tidak
terlalu banyak?
Saya kira pernyataan yang dicetuskan Ibu Sri Mulyani di bawah sangat pantas
untuk direnungkan, untuk Indonesia yang lebih baik.

Yet Mulyani stands out for her toughness. She says her staff had to “swallow
a lot of very bitter reality” during her first six months on the job. After
landing there, for example, she confronted senior staff: “How can you send
your daughter or your son to study abroad when you earn only this kind of
salary? Where did you get the money?” To which she added: “You have to
admit: we are all committing this crime.”
Salam,
Andri

Source: http://www.newsweek.com/id/178817

–article begins—

‘As Good As It Gets’
Indonesia is managing the global recession better than most, thanks to its
tough finance minister.
By Solenn Honorine and George Wehrfritz | NEWSWEEK
Published Jan 10, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Jan 19, 2009

Last month a financial tidal wave washed over Indonesia, but not the one
kicked up by the global credit crisis. Money flooded into government coffers
from individuals and corporations eager to avail themselves of Jakarta’s
“sunset policy” on tax delinquency, which forgave past evasions in exchange
for good behavior going forward. The exact size of the surge isn’t yet
known, but economists estimate that tax receipts were up more than 50
percent for the year. “We saw quite a big jump” in revenue in December from
“taxpayers who never existed [on the tax rolls] or want to correct mistakes
made in the past,” says the plan’s creator, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani
Indrawati. Indonesians, she adds, are honoring their tax obligations “in a
much more accurate way.”

The influx marks a major triumph for Indonesia’s current government and, in
particular, for the woman who put Jakarta’s financial house in order. Over
the past four years, Mulyani has helped dismantle the financial architecture
of the crony capitalism built by strongman Suharto before his 32-year reign
ended in 1998. She has pressed hard to slash debt, both public and private;
pushed through a rollback of budget-busting fuel subsidies; and overseen
sweeping reforms of the customs and tax authorities—positioning Indonesia to
post the world’s best (or at least the least bad) emerging-market growth
story in 2009. Unnoticed until recently, Jakarta’s conservatism is now the
envy of the developing world, and Mulyani is being hailed as a model
regulator. “She could be the finance minister anywhere in the world,” says
James Castle, founder of the consultancy CastleAsia. “She’s that good.”

Largely to Mulyani’s credit, the country’s balance sheet is now among the
most conservative in the world; government debt now sits at just 30 percent
of GDP, down from more than 100 percent a decade ago, while Indonesia Inc.
is far less leveraged than its peers elsewhere in Asia. Despite that
relative austerity, growth is being driven both by commodities—Indonesia’s
traditional mainstay—and by strong domestic consumption from a population
approaching 240 million. And neither the commodity bust (which has also
driven down the price of the imported energy on which Indonesia depends) nor
tighter global credit looks set to hobble a country that, from the household
to the boardroom and cabinet chambers, is all but debt-free.

Indeed, Indonesia is one of just three major emerging economies forecast to
grow faster than 4 percent in 2009. The other two—China and India—have
decelerated more rapidly in recent months and face tougher policy
challenges. Mulyani says Indonesia could expand by as much as 5.5 percent
this year, which is barely slower than the 6 percent it clocked in 2008, and
perhaps enough to pip one of its two Asian counterparts in this year’s
growth race. Not bad, considering that the country’s economy collapsed in
1998, shrinking 18 percent in a single year. Wolfgang Fengler, a senior
economist at the World Bank, says Jakarta’s macroeconomic management is now
“as good as it gets.”

Indonesia owes its turnaround to an ensemble cast. President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono has provided the political stability and pro-globalization vision
that underpin today’s successes. Boediono (who goes by one name) was a deft
coordinating minister for economics until he handed the brief to Mulyani
last May to head Indonesia’s central bank, and Trade Minister Mari Pangestu
deserves plaudits for kick-starting Indonesia’s export economy. Yet Mulyani
stands out for her toughness. She says her staff had to “swallow a lot of
very bitter reality” during her first six months on the job. After landing
there, for example, she confronted senior staff: “How can you send your
daughter or your son to study abroad when you earn only this kind of salary?
Where did you get the money?” To which she added: “You have to admit: we are
all committing this crime.” Her staffers still work evenings and weekends to
meet her expectations, and she’s been known to tangle with colleagues. Last
year she lobbied intensively to ram through a deeply unpopular reduction in
fuel subsidies that President Yudhoyono initially opposed. “She got her way
because she is capable of playing politics,” says Anton Gunawan, chief
economist at Bank Danamon in Jakarta.

Yet by raising pay for bureaucrats, and not demonizing those who previously
took payoffs to make ends meet, she has raised standards and steeled a
reputation as an incorruptible reformer. Her message to her staff is simple
and positive: “I only have one goal: I want the Indonesian people to trust
us, this department, because this country will go nowhere if the people
don’t start to trust their own government.” Though nobody would yet describe
Indonesia as a model of transparency, the changes in its taxation and
customs administrations have been profound, and in turn have enhanced
Indonesia’s growth potential to the point that “the world needs to update
the way it thinks about the country,” wrote Nicholas Cashmore, CLSA
investment bank’s Indonesia analyst, in mid-2008, declaring: “Southeast
Asia’s largest economy is in great shape.”

And thanks to Mulyani, Indonesia is garnering more respect by the day.