Wed, 19 Mar 2003

KPU told to find own funding

Arya Abhiseka, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government has told the General Elections Commission (KPU) to find the more than Rp 40 billion (US$4.5 million) it needs for the voter registration process on its own.

KPU member Mulyana W. Kusumah told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday the commission needed over Rp 400 billion for voter registration data processing, Rp 40 billion higher than its budget of Rp 363 billion. That leaves the KPU to fill the Rp 40 billion funding shortfall.

"The best we can do at the moment is to cut the budget of other posts and allocate it for data processing after voters have been registered," he said.

Mulyana, however, said the budget shortfall could jeopardize other KPU programs.

"We are still discussing other alternative sources of funding for the (voter registration) process," he said.

Agus Suherman, the director of statistical information systems at the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS), said the Rp 40 billion was crucial for voter registration data processing.

"We need the Rp 40 billion to hire people to process the voter registration data and buy more software and hardware," he said.

The KPU announced earlier that in accordance with its plan to hold the 2004 general election ahead of schedule, it needed Rp 4 trillion in funding, with more than Rp 400 billion of that for processing the data from the voter registration process.

The general election is scheduled for April 5 next year, with the results to be announced on May 5.

At the time of the announcement, there was some skepticism about whether the government would be able to provide the necessary funding for the general election, particularly in view of the country's economic situation.

However, the government has approved to disbursement of some Rp 2.3 trillion in 2003 for the elections.

As stipulated by the newly endorsed electoral law, the general election must be funded solely by the state budget.

The Ministry of Finance is in charge of disbursing the funds for the general election.

Earlier, Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra complained that his ministry was forced to borrow money from the ministry's employee cooperative to proceed with the verification of political parties eligible to contest the elections.

Yusril said his ministry required some Rp 28 billion for party verification, which he said the Ministry of Finance had not yet disbursed.