Tue, 05 Aug 2003

'Why such a huge budget for useless Session?'

The ongoing Annual Session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) is costing taxpayers about Rp 20 billion (US$2.35 million), with which 700 legislators are enjoying the luxury of a Rp 800,000 room at a five-star hotel -- even those who reside in the capital. The fact has cast doubt on the significance of the Session. The Jakarta Post asked some residents for their views on the event.

Alfi (not her real name), 29, works for a private company in West Jakarta. She lives in Tangerang with her family:

The Annual Session is merely a waste of money since it's meaningless. It doesn't give produce significant results for the people.

I strongly agree that the session should finish sooner than planned, considering the high daily expenses for participating legislators.

There's nothing crucial to discuss during the Session, so why should they have one in the first place if it's ineffective?

The money would be more useful in paying off the country's debt, which would eventually help ease the nation's burden.

Corruption during the repayment of the debt to the International Monetary Fund would be minimal, since it deals with the entire nation, as well as the international sphere.

I don't think the budget will be distributed properly if it is allocated for education or for poverty eradication.

Besides, the Annual Session only worsens the already congested traffic because of the security checks in many areas to safeguard the legislators, although they talk about and do nothing.

Sukiman, 30, is a cellular phone vendor in Blok M, South Jakarta. He lives in South Jakarta with his wife:

The Annual Session has no purpose at all. I haven't heard anything about the crucial issues to be discussed at the session.

I completely agree the Session should end sooner to save the people's money. They are wasting the state budget for nothing. The money they're using is from taxpayers like us.

There's nothing we can expect from the legislators, since they don't represent the citizens of the country. They are only talking rubbish during the Session.

It would be better if the budget allocated for the Session was used to improve public facilities, including waterways and thoroughfares in the city -- people want to have better public facilities. It's a more realistic purpose than using the state budget for such a Session.

All their talk at the session won't amount to much for the country. It's a mere formality, just like the previous years. I'm sure of it.

To be honest, I don't care about it. It's more important to think about my business and how to survive.

Edi, 32, is a sidewalk vendor selling fried catfish in Radio Dalam, South Jakarta. He lives in Petogogan, South Jakarta, with his wife and daughter:

Wow! Is the (Annual Session) budget that big? It's beyond my imagination -- Rp 20 billion is a lot.

I can't even imagine staying at a luxurious hotel that would cost me Rp 800,000 a night. What big spenders!

Why is such a huge budget being spent on a useless Session? It won't bring any results in peoples' lives.

Honestly, I haven't heard of any vital issues that could make all the legislators flock to the Session.

It's nonsense if the legislators claim to represent the people. None of them take the side of the poor.

It's better to end the Session sooner.

Perhaps the money could be distributed to the needy in conflict-torn areas like Aceh. I'm sure many people there are in need of humanitarian aid. Or, if it's possible, the budget can be used to create jobs for the unemployed.

-- Leo Wahyudi S.