JAKARTA - CEO and founder of P2P lending startup Amartha Andi Taufan Garuda Putra has resigned from the Presidential Special Staff.

In an open letter published on Friday (24/4), Mr Putra said he had submitted his resignation letter to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on April 17, 2020.

"My decision to resign is merely based on my sincere wish to fully dedicate myself to empowering the people's economy, especially those running micro and small enterprises," the Harvard University and Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) graduate wrote.

Although not mentioned in the letter, Mr Putra has been slammed after his letter to several subdistrict heads was leaked on social media. In the letter, which used the Cabinet Secretariat's official letterhead, he asked subdistrict heads to involve Amartha in their coronavirus (COVID-19) mitigation effort.

The leak prompted abuse of power accusations against Mr Putra in his capacity as a Presidential Special Staffer with alleged conflict of interest. Eventually Mr Putra withdrew the letter and issued an apology; however, he was reported to the police by lawyers M. Sholeh and Tomi Singgih for alleged abuse of power, although the police refused to process the report.

Mr Putra is the second member of the Presidential Special Staff to resign this week; as reported by IDNFinancials.com, on Tuesday (21/4) CEO and founder of edtech startup Ruangguru Adamas Belva Syah Devara announced his resignation following controversy surrounding his company's involvement in the Pre-Employment Card programme.

Currently there are five youth representatives serving as Presidential Special Staffers: CEO of event organiser Creativepreneur Putri Tanjung, who is also the daughter of tycoon Chairul Tanjung; founder of the Sabang Merauke Movement Ayu Kartika Dewi; disability activist and founder of Thisable Enterprise Angkie Yudistia; founder of NGO Kitong Bisa and CEO of PT Papua Muda Inspiratif Billy Mambrasar; and former Secretary-General of Young Ulemma Solidarity for Jokowi (Samawi) Aminuddin Ma'ruf.

With most of the staffers being overseas university graduates working as startup CEOs and NGO founders, concerns have been raised over potential conflict of interest because they are not required to relinquish their private jobs upon being appointed to the Presidential Special Staff. Prior to their resignation, Mr Putra and Mr Devara were accused of using their positions in the Special Staff to ensure their companies' involvement in government projects.

In addition to Mr Putra and Mr Devara, Special Staffer Billy Mambrasar is also currently facing contoversy and criticism after claiming that his company PT Papua Muda Inspiratif (PMI) received financial assistance from the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs. The claim has since been debunked by Cooperatives Minister Teten Masduki. (MS)