Mon, 12 May 2003

MTI urges Sutiyoso to seriously look into Rp 820b irregularities

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Transparency Society (MTI) said Governor Sutiyoso was ultimately responsible for irregularities in the administration uncovered by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK).

"The leader of any institution is responsible for what is done by his subordinates, so the governor should tell the head of each working unit to pay serious attention to the findings (by the BPK)," MTI chairman Sudirman Said told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Sudirman was commenting on an announcement by the BPK that it had uncovered about Rp 820 billion (US$97.62 million) in financial irregularities at eight institutions under the city administration's control and in four city-owned enterprises.

The findings were based on the BPK's audit of routine and developmental expenses in the 2001 and 2002 budgets at the eight institutions and the 2001 and 2002 books at the four city-owned companies.

City Audit Agency (Bawasda) chairman Firman Hutajulu played down the BPK's findings, saying such irregularities should not be interpreted as indications of corruption. He said the irregularities could be mere procedural and administrative errors.

Sudirman criticized Firman for trying to simplify and brush off the irregularities. He said these kinds of statements usually indicated a city official trying to cover up mistakes.

"If they (Bawasda) worked well, they would have detected the irregularities in the use of taxpayer money by institutions under the city administration's control," Sudirman told the Post.

He said if existing control mechanisms worked well irregularities and corruption in government agencies could be curbed, pointing to fact that there were numerous institutions whose task it was to supervise the administration, including BPK, the development and financial audit agency (BPKP), Bawasda and inspectorate offices.

The commitment of the top leaders in the administration to fighting corruption is key for eradicating corruption, collusion and nepotism, Sudirman added.

The difficulty in fighting corruption in the bureaucracy, Sudirman said, is that there is a lack of commitment to dealing with the issue because officials are reluctant to punish those guilty of the crime.

"It is easy to see why corruption in the bureaucracy cannot be curbed, as officials who frequently commit the offense are never punished by their bosses," Sudirman said.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the City Council's Commission D for development affairs, Koeswadi Soesilohardjo, stressed the need for the city administration to follow up on the BPK report to see if any crimes were committed.

An investigation would help determine whether the irregularities were the result of corruption or were merely administrative and procedure mistakes, he said.

"If the governor does not follow up on the findings, it could lead to suspicion that he was involved in the irregularities committed by his subordinates," Koeswadi said, adding that if there was adequate evidence of corruption the suspects should be taken to court.

According to recent reports, there are a number of outstanding corruption cases allegedly involving city officials. Almost none of these cases have ended up in the courts. In a few cases several low-ranking officials received administrative sanctions, but their supervisors were untouched.