Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia’s Fearless Finance Minister

Sri Mulyani Indrawati is Indonesia’s Fearless Finance Minister and one of the most powerful women in the world according to Forbes. She was once forced out out of the very same post she now holds, after making enemies of powerful Indonesians. Before returning last year, she won praise during six years as managing director of the World Bank in Washington.

Since joining Joko Widodo’s “dream team” cabinet in Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Sri Mulyani vowed to clean up the tax office itself, an institution long beset by corruption and to revamp the overall taxation system and double the number of auditors to widen the tax base. Getting as far as she has was “an accident,” she says. When Sri Mulyani announced to her parents in high school she was going to study economics—her way of stepping out of the shadow of her academically gifted older siblings—her parents thought she would end up a bank teller. Attending economics classes at the University of Indonesia, she saw the unequal opportunities afforded to a clique of students surrounding a privileged student, Siti Hediati Hariyadi, known as Titiek, daughter of then-President Suharto. It was then that she knew what she wanted to pursue in life. “That feeling of exclusion was very strong,” Indrawati says. “If you’re not a friend of those people, then your career path is going to be very different, and that is exactly what influences very strongly the way I think about economics and the economy in

Getting as far as she has was “an accident,” she says. When Sri Mulyani announced to her parents in high school she was going to study economics—her way of stepping out of the shadow of her academically gifted older siblings—her parents thought she would end up a bank teller. Attending economics classes at the University of Indonesia, she saw the unequal opportunities afforded to a clique of students surrounding a privileged student, Siti Hediati Hariyadi, known as Titiek, daughter of then-President Suharto. It was then that she knew what she wanted to pursue in life. “That feeling of exclusion was very strong,” Indrawati says. “If you’re not a friend of those people, then your career path is going to be very different, and that is exactly what influences very strongly the way I think about economics and the economy in Indonesia.” Indrawati recalls those days with bittersweet nostalgia. “I was an activist at that time,” she says. “I was very active in really advocating against what we saw as the wrong policy, the wrong approach.” As she addressed the quarterly meeting of analysts, she likened those who are impatient with the government to her 3-year-old grandson when he got restless during car journeys. Although such behavior might be expected of a toddler, she said, it was uncalled for from investors who wished the government would just hurry up, jump through the necessary hoops, and get on with the reform agenda. “I don’t want you to ask me, ‘Are we there yet?’” she said. “If you ask me that, I would think you’re unprofessional or you’re not competent.” And the bankers? Rather than protest or hurl hostile questions at Indrawati, they mobbed her for selfies. Before long, social media sites were awash

As she addressed the quarterly meeting of analysts, she likened those who are impatient with the government to her 3-year-old grandson when he got restless during car journeys. Although such behavior might be expected of a toddler, she said, it was uncalled for from investors who wished the government would just hurry up, jump through the necessary hoops, and get on with the reform agenda. “I don’t want you to ask me, ‘Are we there yet?’” she said. “If you ask me that, I would think you’re unprofessional or you’re not competent.” And the bankers? Rather than protest or hurl hostile questions at Indrawati, they mobbed her for selfies. Before long, social media sites were awash

And the bankers? Rather than protest or hurl hostile questions at Indrawati, they mobbed her for selfies. Before long, social media sites were awash in images of the smiling finance minister and the analysts who fell under her spell. It was a striking display of respect, if not affection. Enda Curran, Yudith

Modified from Enda Curran, Yudith Ho and Karlis Salna’s Bloomberg Article 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s