Fri, 22 Aug 2003

City only spends 25% of budget

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The city council criticized on Thursday the administration's poor performance in realizing their projects, as was indicated by their meager spending of only 24.52 percent of the Rp 11.07 trillion (US$1.3 billion) budget in the first half of this year.

Spokesman of City Council Commission A for administrative and legal affairs Mardjuan Bakri said an additional budget of Rp 579.44 billion proposed by the administration earlier this month might make it even more difficult for its agencies to implement the projects.

"And there are only a few months left for those agencies to use the budget," Mardjuan said at the council plenary session held to discuss the budget revision proposal.

Spokesman of Council Commission B for economic affairs Muhammad Nakoem took a similar stance, saying that the administration needed to push to finish the remaining projects.

"Commission B is quite pessimistic that the budget will be used up by the end of this year," said Nakoem, without specifying the outstanding projects.

For example, he said, the budget allocated Rp 457 billion for economic affairs, but only Rp 108.27 billion had been spent in the first semester.

Although Deputy Governor Fauzi Bowo admitted to the sluggish performance of the city agencies -- none had attained their targets for the first semester -- he still expressed an optimism that the agencies' performance would improve.

"We will optimize the remaining time as much as possible," he told reporters at City Hall.

Fauzi claimed the difficulty lay in structural changes to the budget, which city administration officials had not fully understood.

In the past, the administration used a simpler budget structure, split into revenues and spending, which were each divided into routine and development expenditures.

Starting this year, spending was further divided into routine and public spending. Several expenditures that used to fall under routine spending, such as hospital maintenance, are now included under public spending, while routine spending is restricted to city officials' salaries.

However, spokesman of Commission D for development affairs Ali Imran Husein said changes in the budget structure did not explain the administration's failure to implement the various projects, and urged the city administration to make a concrete decision on how to realize the projects and programs as planned.

He also regretted the city agencies for proposing new projects in the proposed budget revision, as they had not even realized the projects targeted for the first half of 2003.

For example, the city sanitary agency had proposed an additional Rp 34.99 billion for their budget, even though they still had many outstanding projects.

Spokesman of Commission C for financial affairs Soebali criticized the city audit body, which had failed to supervise the agencies properly.

"We hope the city audit agency would be able to minimize the leakage of budget," Soebali added, without elaborating.

Urban analysts earlier said nearly 30 percent of the budget had not been used as allotted, due to acute corruption in both the city administration and the Council.

Chairman of Jakarta Residents Forum (Fakta) Azas Tigor Nainggolan said councillors and administrative officials had colluded in developing the budget.