A recent study of 41 regencies reported that local administrations outside Java managed their money better than their counterparts in the more developed Java.
The Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra) in collaboration with the Asia Foundation and 20 other budget-concerned NGOs assessed the budget management of 41 regencies and municipalities in 16 provinces. Eighteen surveyed regencies were in Java.
Indonesia has almost 500 regencies and municipalities in 33 provinces.
The research, supported by the Department for International Development (DFID), was conducted between March and August last year.
The result showed that regions outside Java dominated the top five of all four categories: transparency, public participation, accountability and gender equality.
“This proves that local administrations outside Java have improved significantly and could also mean that regencies and municipalities with large budgets, like those in Java, are prone to misappropriation,” Muhamad Maulana, a researcher from the Fitra said Tuesday.
In the transparency category, for example, Pare-pare municipality in South Sulawesi was the best among the 41 regencies surveyed. Pare-pare scored 88 points out of 100.
The second place for the same category was also a region outside Java, Padang Panjang municipality in West Sumatra, which scored 84 points. It also topped the public participation category with 66 points, followed by Bandarlampung municipality in Lampung with 64 points.
Situbondo regency and Bondowoso regency, both in East Java, were the bottom two in this regard.
The big three in the gender equality category were also clinched by non-Java regions. Padang
Panjang won the category with 73 points, followed by Aceh Besar regency in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam with 83 points.
The worst in this category was Situbondo regency in East Java.
The accountability category was the only list topped by a Java region, with Sleman regency in Yogyakarta topping with 87 points, followed by Bone regency in South Sulawesi with 85 points.
However, the aggregate scoring went to Sumedang regency in West Java.
“Sumedang may not have scored high in each category, but it was consistent over all,” Maulana said.
Fitra summarized the study by concluding that local budget performances in general showed
improvements in transparency and accountability.
However, the average scores in both categories were still far from ideal, he said.
“Many local administrations we observed still restricted public access to data and documents about budgets,” said Yuna Farhan, the Fitra secretary-general.
Pare-pare, which topped the transparency category list, was the only regions whose administration provided budget-related documents to the public, “although some of them needed official request letters,” Yuna said.
Local budget performances in the perspective of gender equality and public participation were still poor, according to the study.
“Only a few regions have provided special forums for the public to have a say,” Maulana said.