Sat, 05 Jul 2003

House blames govt for its slow respond in passing bills

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The House of Representatives blamed on Thursday its poor performance in passing legislation on the government, which it said often gave a belated response to bills drafted by lawmakers.

"The slow deliberation of bills should be blamed on the government, which often ignores bills drafted by legislators. There are about seven bills that the government has not responded to," House Deputy Speaker Muhaimin Iskandar told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

When the current session was opened on April 28, House Speaker Akbar Tandjung pledged to finish the deliberation of 41 bills.

As of Thursday, just days before the House goes into recess on July 10, only three bills have been endorsed -- on the national education system, state enterprises and the International Labor Organization convention on manpower.

Crucial bills such as those on presidential elections, the composition of legislative bodies, the constitutional court and the state treasury are still awaiting endorsement.

The bills on presidential elections and the composition of legislative bodies are expected to be endorsed on July 7, the state treasury bill on July 9 and the constitutional court bill on July 31.

Muhaimin emphasized that legislators were always enthusiastic when it came to the deliberation of bills.

A crucial bill on freedom of information is still in the early stages of deliberation. The special committee deliberating the bill is still in the process of seeking input from the public, especially information and communications experts.

The committee has yet to begin deliberations with State Minister for Communications and Information Syamsul Mu'arif.

Deliberation of the constitutional court bill, slated to be endorsed on July 31 during the recess, will only begin on July 4. Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra and Attorney General MA Rachman are expected to attend the first meeting of the committee handling the bill.

Zein Badjeber, chairman of the House legislation body, said the sluggish pace of deliberating bills was due to the fact that President Megawati Soekarnoputri was slow in appointing ministers for the deliberations.

Many analysts have expressed concern that legislators are more concerned with their supervisory role rather than with passing legislation.

Daniel Sparingga of Airlangga University in Surabaya said legislators were "excessive" in performing their supervisory role.

"There are complaints from state enterprises and ministries about the supervisory role of legislators. They often question technicalities of these enterprises," Daniel told the Post.

Daniel also said the establishment of teams of inquiry by the House would hamper the effectiveness of the government.

However, legislators Zein of the United Development Party (PPP) and Paturungi Parawansa of the Golkar Party denied this, saying the House was just carrying out its duties.

Zein emphasized that the House's supervisory role, its legislative functions and its budgetary tasks had to be carried out simultaneously.