Mon, 07 Jul 2003

Distribute autonomy funds fairly: Papuan Regent

Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Manokwari regent Domiggus Mandacan appealed to Papua governor Jaap Salossa to be fair and transparent in distributing the special autonomy funds to regencies and municipalities in an effort to help minimize corruption and improve people's welfare.

"Learning from last year's experience, the special autonomy funds distributed to regencies and mayoralties were considered disproportionate because a larger part of the funds were held by the provincial administration," Antara quoted him as saying in the town of Manokwari on Saturday.

He said the special autonomy funds allocated by the central government to the province rose by 15 percent to Rp 1.5 trillion (US$182 million) in the 2003 fiscal year from Rp 1.3 trillion ($158.5 million) in 2002 but Manokwari's income from the special autonomy fund decreased to Rp 32 billion this year from Rp 41 billion in 2002.

"The irony is all 14 newly formed regencies will receive only Rp 5 billion each," he added.

Separately, legislator Tampubolon called the distribution of funds unfair and unrealistic as the provincial government would receive 60 percent of the special autonomy funds while all the regencies and municipalities would share only 40 percent.

"To be fair and realistic, regencies and mayoralties should be given 60 percent of the special autonomy funds while the provincial administration should receive the remaining 40 percent, because a bigger part of development activities and public service is carried out in the regencies and municipalities," he said.

Tampubolon, a member of the House of Representatives from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), said further that a major part of the 2002 special autonomy funds was held by the provincial administration, hence many development projects in the fiscal year were left unfinished "and many new cars belonging to officials appeared in the provincial capital, likely acquired through corruption".

"This means that Papua's autonomous status has not improved people's welfare and most people remain poor and are watching the local political elite who are leading an extravagant lifestyle," he said.

Responding to the regent's call, secretary of the provincial administration Decky Asmuruf said that so far, the central government had disbursed only 15 percent, or Rp 230 billion, of the Rp 1.5 trillion special autonomy fund, causing a delay in a bigger part of development projects included in the province's 2003 budget.

Regarding the distribution of the fund, Decki said it had been agreed upon between the provincial administration and the regencies and mayoralties.

"The provincial administration receives a higher portion because the autonomous administration is concentrated at the provincial level and, therefore, most development projects are carried out by the provincial administration," he said.

He added that as of next year, the fiscal balance would be regulated by the provincial administration and the finance ministry.