Wed, 24 May 2000

Military faces acute budget Problems: Juwono

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono said the Indonesian Military and National Police were finding it difficult to meet minimum performance standards required for maintaining security given the inadequate funds that have been allotted to them.

Juwono even went so far as to suggest that the low welfare standard of soldiers were driving many to seek alternative measures which often violated the law.

"The budget only fulfills around 25 percent of the minimum budget needed for TNI operational costs," he said.

"As long as our security personnel and equipment are not given sufficient funding, we will continue to suffer more losses in our security maintenance," Juwono told journalists after the opening of the ministry's national meeting here on Tuesday.

Juwono said sufficient funding is the most important element in ensuring professional, law abiding soldiers.

"Because minimum standards to enhance professionalism are not met, there are many who are involved in unsavory activities, including 'influencing' legal processes," he said.

The aim of Tuesday's meeting was essentially to find ways for TNI and National Police to make ends meet with their limited budget.

In the 2000 the State Budget allocated Rp 10.9 trillion (US$1.3 billion) to the ministry. This allocation accounts for 5.59 percent of the total state budget which covers a nine-month period.

Most of budget allocated to the ministry will be allotted to the National Police.

"The police will make up the core of law enforcement efforts, so it will need more funding," Juwono explained.

Despite a nominal increase of 10 percent compared to the previous year's budget, the ministry had actually demanded a 62 percent hike when it brought its proposal to the House of Representatives.

"We all know the budget is important in increasing the capability of law enforcement in accordance with the legal process," Juwono said on Tuesday.

He pointed out that growing public demands for security enforcers to be more professional is unfair if it is not followed by a recognition of the terrible conditions of the nation's soldiers.

"Nowadays, TNI and National Police are under a lot of stress and undermanned, and because of a lack of budget they are also underpaid. This will inevitably lead to a situation where most of the time they will underperform," Juwono stressed.

Nevertheless, with the minimum budget, Indonesia's security forces will continue to perform their duties as best they can.

"With only 25 percent of the needed budget, we will try to provide the maximum national security that the TNI and National Police can afford," Juwono remarked without explaining.

He said priority would be given to protecting investment installations across the country.

"We will try to provide security guarantees for all foreign investors here," Juwono said.

To overcome these shortcomings, Juwono noted that the public also bears responsibility in ensuring peace.

"It will be the main duty of religious and local leaders, instead of us, to enhance law and order," he said.

Juwono also revealed that to finance additional troops sent to Maluku, the ministry had received an additional Rp 500 billion from the ministry of finance.

The additional money will cover 271 days of service.

According to Juwono about Rp 4 billion is needed for each battalion, consisting of about 500 personnel, for that period of time. (dja)