Wed, 04 Jun 2003

KPU seeks Rp 3.45 trillion for elections

Kurniawan Hari The Jakarta Post Jakarta

The General Elections Commission (KPU) reported to the House of Representatives (DPR) on Tuesday its plan to increase the budget for general elections in 2004 from Rp 2.9 trillion (US$363 million) to Rp 3.45 trillion (US$431.25 million).

The budget would finance both legislative and presidential elections. The legislative election is scheduled to take place on April 5, while the two-phase presidential election would be held between June and August, 2004.

KPU deputy chairman Ramlan Surbakti said the additional funds would be used for ballots, ballot boxes, polling station installations, honorariums for staff, and the dissemination of information to the public.

Based on Election Law No. 12/2003, the number of voters at each polling station should not exceed 300 people. With an estimated 130 million voters, KPU needs to set up more than 438,000 election booths.

The commission estimated that the two-round presidential elections would cost around Rp 800 billion, while printing ballots would cost up to Rp 500 billion.

According to Ramlan, each polling station will have five polling booths to speed up voting.

"We estimate that voting at each polling station will end within six hours," Ramlan told the press after attending a closed-door meeting with the House of Representatives's Commission II for legal and home affairs.

The increase to the election budget was based on the assumption that 50 parties would contest the general elections.

According to that estimated, the ballot will be five pages with each page featuring the logos of ten political parties and names of candidates.

KPU also allocated funds for disseminating information about the newly-adopted electoral system.

At the national level, KPU allocated Rp 75 billion to educate people about the system and for the dissemination of information at the provincial and regental levels KPU allocated Rp 75 billion and Rp 25 billion respectively.

Ramlan said he hoped the provincial and regional administrations would help finance the cost of disseminating the information.

Responding to the demand, deputy chairman of House Commission II Abdul Rachman Gaffar promised to help KPU get the funding for the sake of fair elections.

"We of course will ask the budget committee to approve that proposal. If the elections can not take place due to financial problems, there will be serious problems," Gaffar added.

The support of the legislators for the election budget was not without conditions. Gaffar said he demanded KPU officials limit administrative costs and reduce travel expenses.

He also warned KPU members not to abuse their power and take part in bidding for projects that supply or print ballots.

Gaffar, a legislator from the Military/Police faction, said that the budget for security for the general elections had not been submitted to the House.

The security budget, Gaffar said, will depend on whether the elections of legislative members and the elections of the president and vice president are held simultaneously or not.