Wed, 29 Mar 2000

Greater independence urged for BPK

JAKARTA (JP): In order to provide objective audit reports for the House of Representatives, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) must be given greater independence to carry out its duties, according to a former government official.

Ghandi, the former chairman of the Development and Finance Comptroller, said here on Tuesday the draft bill on the role of the state audit agency should give BPK more freedom in planning its audits.

"What needs to be audited and what does not need to be audited should be fully at BPK's discretion," he said.

The government has just completed drafting an amendment on BPK. The draft amendment has been circulated among concerned parties in the government, as well as the nongovernment sector, for their evaluation and input.

After circulating the draft of the new bill on BPK, the government will submit it to the House of Representative next fiscal year, which will begin in April.

Ghandi said the government should not place any constraints on BPK as to what should and should not be audited by the agency. He added that BPK should also be allowed to set its own schedule for its audits.

"The agency must not delay the completion of its audit work merely because its audit results might affect the outcome of the upcoming presidential election, for example," he said.

It also is important that BPK's budget be separate from the budget of the government, otherwise BPK will be placed under the control of the government, he said.

"If the government controls BPK's budget, the government can effectively place limits on BPK's activities regarding the agency's audit work."

Commenting on the draft bill on BPK, Ghandi offered a number of criticisms and suggestions.

There must be a guarantee that the BPK chairman cannot be dismissed in the middle of his term of office, according to Ghandi.

"This way, the BPK chairman will be able to carry out his duties without any pressure or fear of losing his post."

Ghandi said BPK must also report to the House if it uncovered indications of criminal activity during its audits.

According to the Constitution, BPK must regularly report the results of its audits to the House, he said.

"It is weird that when BPK finds a possible crime by a party during its audits the agency does not have to report its finding to the House, but instead only to the police and the attorney general."

The draft bill also must clarify what is meant by obstruction of the audit process, he said.

"If a party being audited asks for more time to prepare data, can this be considered obstructing the audit process," he asked.

Ghandi said it should be made clear that only if a party being audited requested an intolerable amount of extra time to prepare data, could they be considered as obstructing the work of BPK.

Besides the new bill on BPK, the government also has completed two other draft bills: one on the state budget and one on the state treasury. (udi)