Chair, Indonesia Awakening Committee
Decentralization, Reconciling Economic Policy and Institution-Building Goals, Balancing the Central and Local, Containing Patronage Pressures, Civil Service
media, civil service, decentralization
Wed Jul 15 2009
Rizal Ramli, former Indonesian minister of finance and head of the State Logistics Agency, recounts in great detail his role in the transition into the post-Suharto era, including major actors and events. He describes some of the corruption as state-run agencies and how his fears about patronage politics and appointees under former President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) were not borne out. He explains the decentralization process, which involved the transfer of civil servants out from the center to the regions, and some of the resistance and opposition he faced. He speaks about the metrics used to determine which regions got how much state funding. He explains how his experience with the military helped him overcome opposition to decentralization and reform as well as corruption within the ranks of Bulog. He reflects about changes he initiated at the State Logistics Agency, including changing the accounting system to bring off-budget accounts onto the budget, firing corrupt officials, reducing travel costs substantially, and efforts to stop state officials from importing private rice. He also reflects on his role in restructuring the National Electric Company. Throughout this process, Ramli saw the press as a strategic ally, but he underscores the importance of leading by example.
At the time of this interview, Rizal Ramli was the chairman of the Indonesia Awakening Committee and an independent politician. He previously headed Indonesia’s State Logistics Agency. He also served as coordinating minister for economics, finance and security and minister of finance under the administration of President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur).