Joko Widodo and Luhut Binsar Panjaitan - Photo by President Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo expands the jurisdiction and level of authority of Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, a former military general and his close confidant and business partner, by issued Presidential Decree Number 71 of 2019 overseeing the coordinating ministry of maritime affairs and investments.

The ministry that is lead by Pandjaitan has reprised his position as coordinating minister for Widodo’ new cabinet for his second and final term until 2024. He retains the portfolio and has held over the past five years, which oversees the management of natural resources onshore and offshore, including mines and palm oil.

“This time he has an additional mandate of “dealing with investment barriers and realizing huge investment commitments,” Widodo said recently.

One focal point in the decree is the task to solve issues that take place between ministries and ensure its implementation. The coordinating ministry is also authorized to oversee national priority programs and other policies stipulated in the Cabinet Meeting.

Under the new regulations, Pandjaitan also has the authority to coordinate a number of ministries and institutions that are not regulated by old decrees such as the public works and public housing ministry, the environment and forestry ministry, and the Investment Coordinating Board.

The minister was Widodo’ main supporter since the 2014 presidential election. Since then, he always gained positions in the Widodo’ administration, starting from the presidential chief of staff, coordinating ministry for political, legal and security, also acting minister for energy and mineral resources.

Pandjaitan also has significant business holdings active in the natural resources, power generation, and agriculture sectors, through his Toba Sejahtera Group. Jaringan Advokasi Tambang (JATAM) earlier this year published a report showing that his coal-mining companies expropriated land from farmers in Borneo, leaving behind dozens of mining pits that they were legally obliged to rehabilitate.

However, for the next five years, he will run point for the administration’ push to expand domestic consumption of palm oil biofuel under a blend of 20 percent biofuel (B20) program and 80 percent diesel.

“The president gave me a directive to resolve investment problems for petrochemical, B20, and to reduce gas imports,” the minister told reporters at State Palace after Widodo reappointed him into second-term Cabinet.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com