Sat, 12 Apr 2003

Graft resurfaces in subdistrict councils

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Four cases of corruption are suspected to have taken place with the funds for the subdistrict community empowerment program (PPMK), disbursed last year and managed by the subdistrict council, an official said on Friday.

The chairwoman of the City Community Empowerment Board (BPM), Rohana Manggala, said that the cases of suspected graft, totaling Rp 195 million and involving four members of four subdistrict councils, were being investigated by police.

The alleged corruption cases occurred in Kelapa Dua subdistrict, West Jakarta, involving Rp 94 million, and in three subdistricts in Central Jakarta: Karet Tengsin, involving Rp 24 million, Paseban, involving Rp 67 million, and Bungur, involving Rp 10 million.

Only one graft case was detected with the program's funds in 2001, but it involved a significant amount of money -- Rp 719 million. The case occurred in the Serdang subdistrict, also in Central Jakarta.

"All the cases were discovered as a result of people's tips about irregularities they noticed," Rohana said.

Observers said these findings were only the tip of the iceberg and there were more irregularities in the management of PPMK's funds.

Amid the irregularities, the city administration will raise the amount of PPMK funding for each subdistrict from Rp 250 million last year to Rp 500 million this year.

The fund will be disbursed later this year.

Rohana also said her office had found Rp 4 billion of bad debts from a total of Rp 60 billion of PPMK funds disbursed last year.

She added that there were subdistricts which had bad debts amounting to more than 50 percent of the fund. In that case, the city administration will not disburse funds to subdistricts whose debt load amounts to more than 50 percent.

Tubagus Haryokarbianto of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) said separately that the subdistrict council should supervise the implementation of the program, not manage it.

Tubagus accused the city administration of trying to co-opt the public figures in the subdistricts by asking the council to manage the fund. With the implementation of the policy, it is expected that the subdistrict council will not criticize the city administration.

City Hall spokesman Muhayat, however, defended the policy, saying that it was part of the city's efforts to empower all elements of the subdistricts.

"If we allow subdistrict heads to manage the PPMK's funds, it would be a setback," Muhayat said, adding that in trying to reduce the irregularities, the subdistrict heads would be involved in the supervision.