Wed, 15 Jan 2003

Government urged to be transparent on nonbudgetary funds

Zakki Hakim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Transparency International Indonesia (TII) is urging the government to be transparent in the use of its three nonbudgetary fund sources to avoid abuse.

"We demand transparency in the use of three fund sources, with a total estimated sum of over Rp 80 trillion (US$9.2 billion) in cash," TII secretary general Emmy Hafild told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

The three nonbudgetary fund sources, which could be used to help finance the deficit in the state budget (APBN), were account No. 69 for contingency reserves, the investment fund account (RDI) and funds set aside by the State Logistics Agency (Bulog), she said.

The money for account No. 69 derived from, among other sources, reforestation funds and taxation on forest products, while the money for RDI derived from profit from the extension of two-step loans, she said.

The total funds in the two accounts alone were estimated at Rp 80 trillion, while the Bulog fund was very enormous but no exact figure was available, she said.

As the three fund sources were not included in the state budget and not reported by the government openly, not many people were aware of their existence, she said.

Faisal Baasir, deputy chairman of House of Representatives Commission IX for financial affairs, said the government should be accountable in the use of nonbudgetary fund sources, especially as they were not included in the state budget.

"The two accounts are supposed to be included in the state budget this year, but we (in Commission IX) have not been informed of the latest development. Currently we await the audit result on the accounts from the Financial and Development Control Agency (BPKP) and plan to meet with the government in the current sitting to discuss the mechanism for including the nonbudgetary funds into the state budget," he said.

Anggito Abimanyu, head of the Fiscal Analysis Agency (BAF) of the Ministry of Finance, said that this year some funds from the two accounts were going to be included in the state budget.

"However, it is impossible to include all the funds into the state budget because the government needs them for contingency purposes. For example, the funds can be used as an advance payment for civil servant salaries," he said.

TII is the Indonesian chapter of Berlin-based Transparency International (TI), a non-governmental organization specializing on corruption monitoring.

Every year TI publishes ratings on the most corrupt countries in the world. Indonesia's was ranked the most corrupt of 12 national economies in Asia last year.

In the 2003 outlook, TII had high hopes because Indonesia now had legislation in place on money laundering and on the eradication of corruption, Emmy said.

However, to fight corruption two more laws on the protection of witnesses and victims and on access to information were needed, she said.

"If we had the four laws, then there might be real hope of a better future in a corruption-free Indonesia," she said.

According to TII, the eradication of corruption last year was a failure due to an absence of integrity on behalf of public officials, as some of them did not resign from their positions over their alleged misconduct.

"Public officials tend to fight to save face rather than carry out their job of serving the people. For example we have seen officials suing each other," Emmy said.

TII also noted a few potential problems in the near future concerning transparency in the planned closure of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA), the independence of the proposed members of the anticorruption commission and donations to political parties.