Fri, 30 Jun 2000

Non-budgetary funds 'must go' into state coffers by July 10

JAKARTA (JP): Finance minister Bambang Sudibyo announced on Thursday that all non-budgetary funds belonging to government ministries and state agencies, including the military, must be transferred to a special state revenue account by July 10 at the latest.

Bambang said that the Development and Finance Comptroller (BPKP) would then investigate the source of the funds to make sure that ministries and agencies had transferred the correct amounts to the state coffers.

"Off-balance sheet funds must be transferred at the latest by July 10, 2000," he said at a media conference.

He also said that in the future all non-tax state revenue must be transferred to the state coffers in accordance with the existing procedures and rulings.

The finance ministry issued a decree on Wednesday to enforce the new measure.

Non-budgetary, or off-balance sheet funds, are basically non- tax revenues collected by ministries and state agencies but not included in the state budget.

They have been the source of corruption in the past, and reportedly used to finance the 32-year authoritarian rule of former president Soeharto.

In a bid to curb corruption as well as to implant good governance and transparency in state institutions, the government has decided to eliminate off-balance sheet funds and transfer them to a state revenue account subject to a public audit.

Bambang said that in the case of reforestation funds, estimated to be more than Rp 4.7 trillion (US$542.73 million), the forestry and plantations ministry must transfer them to a special state revenue account at state-owned Bank Mandiri by today (Friday) at the latest.

Director General of the State Budget Anshari Ritonga said that funds under the management of the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) and the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) were not off-budget.

"The funds are being managed by the agencies under separate rulings," he said.

Ritonga also said that funds used to finance routine expenditure and projects at each of the institutions were exempted from the new ruling.

Ritonga said that out of 58 ministries and state institutions, 21 claimed they did not have off-budget funds, 24 reported that they did while 13 had yet to report to the finance ministry.

He said that at the initial reporting stage the amount of off- budget funds totaled Rp 598 billion, but last reports say the amount has dropped to Rp 15 billion.

Both Bambang and Ritonga failed to provide a clear explanation for the huge drop.

Bambang said that all the government ministries and agencies, including the 21 institutions that claimed they had no off- budget funds, were expected to explain themselves.

"To be frank, I myself don't know whether the finance ministry has off-budget funds," Bambang said.

Asked what sanctions were to be applied to institutions that made false reports, he said that the issue was still being discussed by the government and the BPKP.

Coordinating Minister for Economy, Finance and Industry Kwik Kian Gie said on Wednesday that the government had yet to reach agreement on what sanction to give to institutions that had falsified reports and how to design an effective measure to allow the BPKP to audit all ministries and state institutions.

Kwik said that to audit the military a green light from the defense and security ministry was needed.

The issue of off-budget funds made headlines recently, particularly following reports that certain people within President Abdurrahman Wahid's inner circle had been involved in the embezzlement of some Rp 35 billion from Bulog.

The case is still being investigated.(rei)