Sat, 27 Sep 2003

Lawmakers blamed for poor performance

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Akbar Tandjung blamed fellow lawmakers on Friday for the legislative body's failure to finish the deliberation of various bills on time.

Akbar said the lawmakers' full attendance was necessary to help speed up the deliberation of the bills.

"Many meetings were delayed because they (the legislators) did not meet the quorum. This adversely affected the House's ability to fight for the people's interests," he said during the plenary meeting that marked the closing of the House session.

The House will now go into recess until Oct. 24. Legislators generally take this time to meet their constituents, but they have recently been using it to deliberate outstanding bills.

Of the 30 bills deliberated in the session from Aug. 15 to Sept. 26, the House was only able to finish two bills, excluding the state budget revision. The bill on money laundering was endorsed on Sept. 16, while the geothermal bill was passed on Sept. 23.

Akbar said the endorsement of the money laundering bill had been top priority, as it was to help the country's antiterrorism efforts.

It was not the first time the House failed to meet its target.

In the previous session from April to July, the legislators only managed to complete deliberating five of 41 bills.

During the January-March session, the lawmakers finished three bills, plus bills on the establishment of 23 regencies and two municipalities, falling short of their target of 53 bills.

Some legislators suggested that the House deliberate the unfinished bills in the evening and during recess. However, several legislators confirmed on Friday there had been no invitation to discuss the outstanding bills thus far.

These bills include those on the protection of migrant workers, legislative mechanism, freedom of information, state secrecy and sports.

On the same occasion, Akbar, in the House's supervisory capacity, called on the General Elections Commission (KPU) to stick to its existing schedule to prevent delaying the elections.

The KPU is scheduled to hold the legislative and presidential elections next year on April 5 and July 5, respectively. The second round of the presidential election is slated for Sept. 20.

Akbar said the allocation of legislative seats should be decided in a fair manner, and also urged transparency in the KPU's purchase of property for the elections.

In regards the 2003 state budget, Akbar suggested that the government work hard to seek funds, either from domestic or foreign sources, to cover the budget deficit.

Akbar said the House's budget committee would start deliberating the proposed 2004 state budget while in recess in order to meet the deadline.

Article 15 (4) of Law No. 17/2003 on state finance stipulates that the House should make a decision on the draft budget taken no later than two months before the start of the fiscal year on Jan. 1.