Sri Mulyani Indrawati, born on August 26, 1962, is an Indonesian economist whose career has been marked by her significant contributions to both her home country and the international stage. Her journey from academia to politics and her remarkable achievements in the financial sector have made her a prominent figure in economics and global governance.
Sri Mulyani was born in the town of Tanjung Karang, now known as Bandar Lampung, Sumatra. She hails from an academic family, with her parents, Prof. Satmoko and Retno Sriningsih, being university lecturers. Mulyani has several siblings and a strong family background in education.
Her pursuit of education led her to the University of Indonesia, where she obtained her degree in 1986. To further her academic and professional career, she pursued a master's and a doctorate in economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her dedication and commitment to learning took her to Atlanta, Georgia, where she served as a consultant with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and as a visiting professor at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. Additionally, from 2002 to 2004, she served as an executive director on the board of the International Monetary Fund, representing 12 economies in Southeast Asia.
Sri Mulyani is married to economist Tonny Sumartono, and they have three children. She is widely recognised for her professional acumen and has no political affiliations.
Sri Mulyani's significant career in finance began when she was appointed as the Indonesian Finance Minister in 2005 by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Her tenure was marked by swift and effective action, including the dismissal of corrupt tax and customs officers in the department. Mulyani's determination to combat corruption and reform the nation's tax and customs offices resulted in a reputation for integrity.
Under her leadership, Indonesia witnessed an increase in foreign direct investment. In just one year, the country attracted nearly $9 billion in foreign direct investment, up from $4.6 billion the previous year. Her tireless efforts in increasing investment and fighting corruption were recognised when Euromoney magazine named her Finance Minister of the Year in 2006.
In 2007, under her stewardship, Indonesia achieved an impressive 6.6% economic growth rate, the highest since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Despite the global economic slowdown, the nation's growth remained at a strong 6% in 2008. Mulyani's accomplishments didn't stop there; she was inaugurated as the Coordinating Minister for the Economy in July 2008.
Mulyani's impact on Indonesia's financial landscape was profound. She helped raise the country's foreign exchange reserves to a record high of $50 billion and reduced public debt to approximately 30% of the gross domestic product, down from 60%. Her reforms also included revised incentive structures for civil servants in her ministry, providing higher salaries to tax officials deemed "clean" to reduce the temptation of accepting bribes.
Sri Mulyani's exceptional leadership earned her the title of Asia's Finance Minister of The Year by Emerging Markets newspaper in both 2007 and 2008.
After President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's re-election in 2009, Mulyani was re-appointed as Finance Minister. Under her guidance, the number of income taxpayers in Indonesia increased from 4.35 million in 2005 to nearly 16 million individuals in 2010, with tax receipts growing by approximately 20% each year, exceeding Rp 600 trillion in 2010.
In 2020, she stirred controversy by issuing a global bond series with a 50-year tenor, marking the longest loan ever offered in Indonesian history.
In 2021, Mulyani took on a new role as one of the Vice Heads of the National Research and Innovation Agency Steering Committee, reflecting her continued dedication to shaping Indonesia's future.
Throughout her career, Mulyani's excellence and dedication have been widely recognised. She currently represents the Ministry of Finance as a member of the World Bank Group's Identification for Development (ID4D) High-Level Advisory Council.
Despite her many accomplishments, Sri Mulyani's career has not been without challenges and controversies. In 2013, it was revealed that Australian intelligence had hacked into her mobile phone in 2009, along with those of other top Indonesian leaders, which led to a diplomatic dispute.
Her move from Indonesian politics to the World Bank in 2010, while seen as a gain for the international community, was viewed negatively in Indonesia, causing financial turmoil and political pressure. Critics speculated that powerful figures, such as tycoon Aburizal Bakrie, were behind her resignation due to her refusal to support certain interests and her investigations into financial irregularities.
The Bank Century scandal, involving the financial bailout of Bank Century in 2008, further complicated her career. Accusations of wrongdoing and political pressure marred her reputation during this challenging time.
Sri Mulyani Indrawati's career has been a remarkable journey marked by her dedication to financial reforms, combating corruption, and her contributions to Indonesia's economic growth. Despite facing numerous challenges and controversies, she remains an influential and respected figure both in her home country and on the global stage. Her legacy as an economist and leader continues to inspire those committed to making positive changes in the world of finance and governance.