Thu, 09 Nov 2000

Ahmadin denies allegations of billboard scandal

JAKARTA (JP): City Planning Agency chief Ahmadin Ahmad, who is accused of receiving compensation from an advertising firm, denies he received any money from the company, an official said on Wednesday.

City Spokesman Muhayat said Ahmadin made the statement during a telephone conversation with Governor Sutiyoso over his alleged role in receiving money from Kemal, the president director of PT Cinggar Indo Galba, in return for a permit allowing the company to erect a giant billboard advertising a well-known toothpaste brand in a restricted area on Jl. Sisingamangaraja in South Jakarta.

Kemal was reportedly said to have handed over funds to the Jakarta Soccer Club (Persija) through Ahmadin, an acting executive of the club, who later issued a recommendation for Kemal's firm to erect the 10-meter-by-20-meter billboard in the area. The company had paid the 2000/2001 fee worth Rp 109.5 million (US$11,530) to the City Revenue Agency.

Muhayat said the governor needed to know the real problem from Ahmadin, who is about to be questioned by the City Honorary Council for the same matter shortly after he arrives in Jakarta this week from a vacation in the United States.

"Ahmadin said he issued the permit (for Kemal's firm) due to a request from a top member of the City Council," he said, adding that the city administration hoped Ahmadin would also be willing to speak to the public, including the media, to clear up the matter.

"By doing so, we hope that people will not be so quick to accuse us (city officials of these crimes) later," the spokesman said.

Based on Ahmadin's preliminary statement, Governor Sutiyoso plans to meet Kemal for further clarification, Muhayat said.

"We want to know the truth because Ahmadin claims he did not receive any money from the company, while Kemal has also corrected his statement, saying he never gave any money to Ahmadin," Muhayat said.

Staff from the City Revenue Agency removed the billboard on Monday from the Jl. Sisingamangaraja area.

On Tuesday, City Planning Agency deputy chief Nurfakih announced that the city administration would issue a gubernatorial decree this month to regulate the placement of billboards on city-owned property.

Under the new gubernatorial decree, all billboards erected on city-owned property will be removed after their contracts with the City Revenue Agency have expired.

"The decree will name 100 sites on city-owned property where billboards will be allowed, and these sites will be opened for bids to all advertising companies in the capital," he said.

The administration, he said, hoped the decree would stop giving an impression that it was inconsistent in issuing billboard permits.

Nurfakih said most of the sites were the same areas where billboards are currently found, such as in Jatibaru and Petamburan, Central Jakarta.

"We're taking inventory of these sites and regulating them with a decree to give us a clear legal basis," he said.

Taxes, contracts and other regulations related to billboards are dealt with in City Bylaw No. 10/1989, while locations prohibiting billboards are detailed in Gubernatorial Decree No. 702/1992.

According to the decree, billboards are prohibited from six streets in the capital, including Jl. Diponegoro, Jl. Imam Bonjol and Jl. Sisingamangaraja, as top government officials and foreign envoys reside in these areas.

The Indonesian Outdoor Advertisement Companies Association (AMLI) said on Monday that numerous billboards were illegally erected in the capital.

Muhayat said the governor would meet with all related city officials on Thursday to decide what urgent steps were to be taken to solve the problems related to billboard advertising in the capital. (dja)