Tue, 13 Jun 2000

Irregularities found in Bulog's funds

JAKARTA (JP): The Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP) has found irregularities of about Rp 166 billion (US$19.5 million) in the nonbudgetary funds belonging to the State Logistics Agency (Bulog), a member of the House of Representatives said on Monday.

Chairman of the House's Commission III Widjanarko Puspoyo said that Bulog's accounts at several banks showed a balance of Rp 416 billion instead of Rp 250 billion as recorded on Bulog's balance sheet.

"The amount of the money in the banks does not match the amount on Bulog's nonbudgetary balance sheet," Widjanarko told reporters following a meeting with BPKP's deputy for special affairs Irwan Sofyan.

Widjanarko said that Bulog's nonbudgetary funds were kept in 116 accounts at various banks, including state Bank Mandiri, Bank Duta and Bank Bukopin.

BPKP, he said, conducted an audit on the use of Bulog's nonbudgetary funds for the period between January 1998 to December 1999.

He said it was unclear how the difference could have occurred as BPKP had failed to conduct a comprehensive audit because of a lack of information.

"We don't even know how long Bulog has managed nonbudgetary funds," he added.

Bulog was established in the late 1960s as a government agency responsible for the purchase and price stabilization of basic commodities, especially rice. The agency, which uses the state budget to finance itself, has accumulated trillions of rupiah from its operations and puts the funds into its own accounts.

BPKP said the audit indicated that Bulog might have managed nonbudgetary funds since before 1998.

This indication, he said, was seen in Bulog's ability to avoid a negative balance sheet, although it suffered losses of Rp 290 billion during the audit period.

BPKP's audit recorded an income of only Rp 2.6 trillion compared to Rp 2.89 trillion in spending throughout the two-year audit period.

"What could it have covered the difference with, if not with the credit balance from the previous year" he said, adding that Bulog might, therefore, have nonbudgetary funds from at least 1997.

"We need clarification of how long Bulog has been using nonbudgetary funds and how it can account for their usage," he said.

He said most of the Rp 2.8 trillion was used for purposes outside Bulog activities, but added that no details where available about this.

Widjanarko criticized the state audit board for failing to track down the existence of Bulog's nonbudgetary funds.

Given the lack of available data, Commission III further doubts BPKP's audit on Bulog.

However, both BPKP and Commission III had agreed to conduct a second audit on Bulog's nonbudgetary funds, he said.

"What we want now is a reconstruction of the flow of Bulog's nonbudgetary funds," he said.

BPKP, he said, had recommended the second audit to Bulog chairman Rizal Ramli, which he approved.

Widjanarko said the audit would be conducted over the same period as the first audit, although Bulog's nonbudgetary funds might have existed earlier.

Commission III also recommended that all nonbudgetary funds of Bulog be transferred into budgetary funds, as to have better accountability of their usage.

BPKP met Commission III in connection with the Bulog loan scandal, which centers around the disbursement of Rp 35 billion from the Bulog employee foundation Yanatera, and allegedly involves close associates of President Abdurrahman Wahid.

The scandal lead to the resignation of then acting state secretary and secretary of government supervision Bondan Gunawan, who maintained he had nothing to do with the scam.

Under the government of then president Soeharto, Bulog had been one of the cash cows for the government's nonbudgetary projects.

Close associates of Soeharto had allegedly often garnered funds from Bulog for their own business purposes.(bkm)