Indonesian Catholic appointed to top World Bank post

Economist Mari Elka Pangestu is to assume the role of managing director for development policy and partnerships.
Indonesian Catholic appointed to top World Bank post

Former Indonesian trade minister Mari Elka Pangestu, right, is seen here  with former Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, in Abuja, Nigeria in this file photo. (Photo Pangestu)

The World Bank has appointed an Indonesian Catholic woman as its managing director for development policy and partnerships.

Mari Elka Pangestu, 64, a senior economist and former cabinet minister in former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s government, becomes the second Indonesian to hold a senior World Bank post following Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who is currently Indonesia’s finance minister. 

She will take up her new role on March 1.

“Her experience as a senior minister, her globally recognized credentials as an economist and researcher, along with her extensive leadership experience and engagement in key international forums on important development issues, will greatly benefit our urgent work at the World Bank Group in support of broad-based growth and poverty reduction,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said in a statement.

He said Mari will provide leadership to and oversee the work program of the World Bank’s Global Practice Groups and oversee the research and data group of the World Bank and the External and Corporate Relations function.

Mari thanked President Joko Widodo and his administration for their support.

“I hope my experience in Indonesia can contribute to the economic growth in many developing countries,” she said in a statement.

Fransiscus Xaverius Sugiyanto, a Catholic and an economic analyst from University of Diponegoro in Semarang of Central Java province, called the appointment “a recognition of Indonesia.” 

“It will benefit Indonesia in both geoeconomics and geopolitics perspectives. Even though she will be looking at the global context, economic issues faced by Indonesia will surely inspire her in the way she sees global economic issues,” he told UCA News.

Vincentius Hargo Mandirahardjo, chairman of the Association of Indonesian Catholic Intellectuals, hoped Mari would help alleviate poverty in developing countries.

“I hope there will be a synergy between the World Bank and the Indonesian government in terms of poverty alleviation. Such a synergy is very important as President Joko Widodo now focuses on producing qualified human resources with an aim to alleviate poverty,” he told UCA News.

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