Jakarta gets local office for information requests, at last
The Central Information Commission (KIP) has launched its local office, following the inauguration of five new commissioners by Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo at City Hall on Thursday.
The commissioners, who will lead KIP’s 13th regional office, will serve until 2016, resolving information access disputes through mediation and adjudication.
Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) researcher Ade Irawan welcomed the inauguration of commissioners Farhan Yunus Basyarahil, John Fresly, Mohammad Dawam, Siti Mariam and Yulianto Widirahardjo and asked them to start their work as soon as possible.
“They should not just wait for reports from the public and non-governmental organizations. They should also invite and encourage them to report,” Ade told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
Ade said that the local KIP office would have an important role in nurturing and upholding transparency in managing the capital’s budget, which has been tipped at Rp 36.02 trillion (US$4.07 billion) for 2012.
“Jakarta is not only the nation’s capital, but it also has the largest budget of all the provinces. The KIP should help to assure that the large fund goes to the public benefit,” Ade said.
The capital is also home to many important state institutions, making it essential for the local KIP office to get to work, he said.
Last year, the ICW reported Jakarta Education Agency chief Taufik Yudi Mulyanto and the principals of five state junior high schools to the police for their reluctance to reveal information regarding the disbursement of education funds.
According to the ICW, the agency and schools refused to produce receipts for the funds they received from the central government under the School Operations Aid (BOS) and Education Operational Aid (BOP) programs.
The establishment of the KIP and its regional branches was mandated by the Freedom of Information Law, which was enacted in 2008 and came into force in 2010.
The law stipulates that several types of information produced or maintained by local agencies must be released to the public periodically.
Further, information that endangers people’s livelihoods and public order and information, such as agency rulings on an issue, must be made available upon request, the law said.
However, some information has been exempted from public disclosure by the law, such as information that might obstruct law enforcement, hurt the protection of intellectual property rights, expose businesses to unhealthy competition, threaten state security, endanger Indonesia’s natural resources, damage foreign relations and or risk the exposure of information of a personal nature.
Fauzi recognized that the KIP was essential for creating transparency and accountability in the
“The public has the right to access the information and it is our priority to provide it,” the governor said at the inauguration.
Meanwhile, KIP central board chairman Abdul Rahman Ma’mun welcomed the opening of the Jakarta branch, although he said that its establishment was quite late.
The commission’s first branch was established in Central Java in May 2010.
Prior to the inauguration of the officials in Jakarta, the capital’s information requests, access complaints and disputes were handled by the KIP’s central office.
Abdul said that the KIP had received dozens of reports from Jakartans in the last two years, demanding access to information ranging from government-provided school grants to local budgets to tender projects.
“Some of the complaints originated because officials didn’t have proper knowledge on whether the requested information was restricted or not,” Abdul told the Post.
The KIP’s central board would continue to process previously received complaints, while the Jakarta branch would handle new ones, he added. (tas)