Mon, 07 Feb 2000

Prakosa to exclude NGOs from KUT participation

MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi (JP): Minister of Agriculture M. Prakosa said here on Saturday that he would exclude non- governmental organizations (NGOs) from participating in the disbursement of credit for farmers (KUT) over growing allegations of embezzlement.

"The government will not involve NGOs to assist in the disbursement of the credit schemes because it has given rise to many problems," Prakosa told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

He said he noticed numerous allegations of the funds being reportedly misappropriated by the NGOs and had thus decided to cease using such measures through the organizations in the coming fiscal year.

Last week the head of the South Sulawesi Prosecutor's Office, Fachry Nasution, alleged that Rp 450 billion in KUT funds was swindled by the village cooperatives (KUD) and several NGOs.

Speaking after a coordination meeting with local officers, Prakosa said the government would now distribute Rp 1.9 trillion in funds for the scheme directly from state banks to farmers' groups, and not through NGOs.

The decision has drawn mixed reactions.

Sinjai Regent Mohammad Roem supported the decision, saying the presence of NGOs in the disbursement only disadvantaged the farmers.

"Banks don't need another facilitator to disburse the funds," he said.

Asmin Amin, the chairman of Information and Communication Forum, an organization for 72 local NGOs, told the Post that he rebuked the decision, saying it had humiliated their reputation.

"As a minister, he should not have made such a decision before confirming the case," Asmin said, adding that the organization was ready to help investigate the allegations.

He also pointed out that NGOs only managed about 10 percent of the scheme's Rp 450 billion funds.

"I suspect this was an effort to publicly shame NGOs," he added.(27/04)