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    Aug 13, 2015

    Joko replaces 6 ministers amid sliding growth


    INDONESIAN President Joko Widodo replaced major economic ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle yesterday, less than a year into his term, after facing criticism for failing to revive growth which is at a six-year low.

    Former central bank governor Darmin Nasution was named chief economics minister, while prominent private equity executive Thomas Lembong was appointed as the new trade minister.

    Four other ministers were replaced in the reshuffle, which followed months of speculation that Mr Joko was planning changes after a poor start to his presidency.

    "I made this decision in response to the economic situation in the country, which is being affected by the global economic downturn," he said.

    Analysts broadly welcomed the news, particularly the decision to appoint Mr Nasution, who is seen as a safe pair of hands and a reformer.

    "The Cabinet reshuffle is a good move as it shows that Jokowi is bold enough to make changes and replace underperforming ministers," said Salim Said, from the Indonesian Defence University, using Mr Joko's nickname.

    Mr Joko was inaugurated in October after winning power on a pledge to boost South-east Asia's biggest economy, which has been slowing in recent years, as demand for its key commodities exports declines.

    But growth has continued to slide, falling to a six-year low of 4.67 per cent in the second quarter, and the government has been criticised for a series of policy flip-flops and a lack of organisation.

    Five of the six ministers appointed yesterday were seen as technocrats as opposed to political appointees, following criticism that Mr Joko had been pressured into making previous appointments by his party's chief, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri.

    The only clear political appointee was Pramono Anung, who is from Mr Joko's party, as Cabinet secretary.