Tue, 08 Mar 2005

City administration receives Rp 1t from fuel subsidies

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Jakarta administration confirmed on Monday that it had received a total of Rp 1 trillion in fuel-subsidy compensation funds, of which around Rp 40 billion would be used to provide health services for the poor.

No detailed breakdown of the funds was immediately available on Monday.

"The City Planning Agency is still discussing details for the allocation of the funds," assistant to the city secretary for people's welfare Rohana Manggala said.

City Secretary Ritola Tasmaya said that the mechanism for channeling the funds would be determined directly by the central government.

However, researchers at the University of Indonesia (UI) have apparently recommended that the city administration become directly involved in the distribution of the funds in order to guarantee that the assistance gets to the intended beneficiaries.

The central government has instructed that funds freed up by last week's fuel subsidy removal -- translated as a 29% increase in fuel prices -- be used to provide cheap rice, health assistance, and primary education scholarships for poor families nationwide, as was done in 2003.

Ida Ruwaida, executive secretary of UI's Sociology Study Center who coordinated the 2003 fund allocation monitoring and evaluation team from that campus, pointed out on Monday that weak coordination among the agencies involved had left the planning agency clueless about the distribution process.

UI and Tarumanegara University in Jakarta were among 35 universities throughout Indonesia that took part in the 2003 monitoring program, which lasted from March through December of that year.

Last Thursday, around 55 universities signed a memorandum of understanding on monitoring this year's allocation system for fuel subsidy compensation funds. In 2004, there was no revision of the long-standing and controversial fuel subsidy.

"UI monitored and evaluated East, Central, and South Jakarta, and Tarumanegara handled West and North Jakarta, and the Thousand Islands in 2003," said UI deputy rector Arie Susilo.

The universities are still discussing the most effective methodology for the 2005 evaluation with the central government.

Ida explained that in the 2003 scheme, most of the assistance was sent straight to the target populace by sectoral agencies.

To improve coordination between these sectoral agencies, Ida said the government should form a body that can facilitate cooperation.

"The government should map the distribution of aid more systematically to ensure the assistance is distributed evenly and that it goes to the right people," said Ida.

She said that one type of misallocation observed by the universities in 2003 was the merging of funds into the budgets of the sectoral body, as in the case of the Ministry of Health and the State Logistics Agency, so that it became unclear where the funds actually originated from.

Due to this lack of coordination, there is a lack of accurate and valid data on the actual number of recipients.

UI found that in 2003, only 88 percent of the allocated funds for East, Central, and South Jakarta reached their target.

"We monitored and evaluated the program by handing out questionnaires to the targeted people and conducting focus group discussions with recipients of the aid," explained Ida, who added that the university had sent out a team of around 60 students to monitor the assistance programs that year.

This year, besides monitoring and evaluating distribution of the allocated funds, the university hopes that the team assigned can take part in determining groups to be targeted and in building a database of recipients.





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