Wed, 05 Mar 2003

City administration told to withdraw 'Dekel' funds

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The city administration has been urged to withdraw Rp 130 billion of aid funds for 167 subdistricts amid widespread corruption by subdistrict officials and members of the subdistrict representatives (Dekel).

"What happened in Serdang subdistrict is only one of many examples of the corruption of aid funds for subdistricts," Jakarta Residents Forum (Fakta) chairman Azas Tigor Nainggolan told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Tigor referred to the misuse of the Subdistrict Community Empowerment Fund (PPMK) by Agus Sugito, Dekel chairman in Serdang subdistrict, Central Jakarta who is now being detained by the police.

Sugito was accused of corrupting Rp 700 million of PPMK money, which he allegedly used to build a house for his mistress and on overseas travel.

The other irregularities include the alleged misuse of Rp 90 million by Kelapa Dua subdistrict council chief, who used the money to repair his home, and in Pluit, North Jakarta, where the money was used to repair subdistrict office buildings.

The PPMK program was launched in 2001 for only 25 subdistricts with funds totaling around Rp 2 billion. In 2002, all subdistricts received the funds, with each receiving Rp 250 million in aid per year.

In 2003, the amount of money was increased to Rp 500 million per subdistrict, although there were many reports about the misuse of the money by subdistrict representatives.

Similar calls came from Tubagus Haryo Karbiyanto, the head of urban affairs division at the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH). He stressed the need to stop the program temporarily until the city administration found a better mechanism to disburse money to the poor in the subdistricts.

He shared Tigor's idea that unspent money be withdrawn while the distributed funds were audited.

Tubagus said the program was ridden with corruption as disbursement of the money by Dekel was not transparent in that only Dekel members and officials in the subdistricts knew how the money was spent or otherwise.

Meanwhile, Governor Sutiyoso said he would go ahead with the aid program, saying that in general the money was useful to the poor as it was used to improve small businesses.

"I will not stop the program only because of one or two irregularities," Sutiyoso said, asking the people to take part in supervising the use of the aid funds.

Tigor, however, stressed the need to withdraw and temporarily stop the aid program. He said a transparent evaluation was needed to see whether the program was effective in empowering the poor.

Tigor said that by withdrawing all the money from the subdistricts, the city administration would know whether the money was used properly or not by the Dekel members.

"Based on my observations, I can say that the majority of the money did not reach the poor people as it is was only distributed among the elite of the subdistricts or among the families of Dekel members."