Wed, 24 Dec 2003

Councillors find absurdity in budget

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Councillors and observers have discovered many overlapping and questionable programs in the draft 2004 city budget proposed by the city administration.

The secretary of City Council Commission B for economic affairs, Dani Anwar, said on Tuesday that the draft budget allocated, for example, Rp 150 million (US$17,647) for the Jakarta Cooperatives, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Agency for drafting one gubernatorial decree.

One governor decree consists of between around three and 20 pages.

"I don't know why drafting a gubernatorial decree is very expensive. Then how much money will go to the governor for signing one decree?" Dani said to The Jakarta Post.

A Justice Party councillor also criticized the agency, which appears short of action in empowering cooperatives and small and medium enterprises in its proposed programs in 2004. The agency, however, proposed Rp 43.72 billion for its activities next year.

Meanwhile, Ugiek Soegihardjo, another Commission B member, criticized a number of funding allocations proposed by the City Industry and Trade Agency and City Tourism Agency.

He questioned the allocation of Rp 100 million for the industry and trade agency for drafting the accountability speech of Sutiyoso at the accomplishment of the 2003 budget.

"If every agency proposed a similar amount of funds for the accountability speech, how much would the speech cost?" quipped Ugiek, who is a councillor from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

He also criticized the City Tourism Agency and its offices in municipalities, which proposed too much money for organizing the annual Abang None (Miss and Mr Jakarta) pageant.

For the annual event, the tourism office in Central Jakarta allocates Rp 350 million, North Jakarta Rp 450 million, East Jakarta Rp 400 million, South Jakarta Rp 350 million, West Jakarta Rp 300 million and the Kepulauan Siribu regency Rp 600 million.

A number of non-governmental organizations, grouped in the NGO-Alliance for Jakarta Financial Watch, found overlapping allocations for the governor's luncheons, as both the Jakarta Secretariat and the City Hall Public Relations Bureau requested allocations.

According to the NGOs' statement, the Jakarta Secretariat allocated Rp 6 billion for the luncheons over the year while the City Hall Public Relations Bureau allocated Rp 5 billion.

"With such amounts of money, City Hall would be able to organize a party worth Rp 30 million every day of the year using taxpayers' money," the statement said.

The NGOs demanded that councillors pay serious attention to such questionable allocations so that taxpayers' money could be spent as effectively as possible.

The administration has proposed a budget of Rp 12.158 trillion for 2004 compared to the Rp 11.563 billion this year.

The proposed budget is being discussed by councillors and officials from the administration and is scheduled to be approved by the council on Dec. 30.