Jakarta poll could be rife with graft: Watchdog
The Jakarta gubernatorial election is extremely vulnerable to corruption, given the fact that three incumbent regional heads are running in it, a budget watchdog says.
The Indonesia Budget Center (IBC) announced during a media briefing on Sunday that poll watchdogs and law enforcers should monitor the possible use of regional funds for election campaigns.
The budget watchdog was referring to Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo, South Sumatra Governor Alex Nurdin and Surakarta Mayor Joko Widodo. It claimed that it had found indications that regents and governors had misused regional budgets to fund their campaigns.
“We have to scrutinize the source of their campaign funds. For example, whose money do they use to travel to and from Jakarta?” IBC director Arif Nur Alam said, referring to Jokowi, who lives in Central Java and Alex in South Sumatra.
Roy Salam, a researcher at IBC, said that funds allotted for all sectors in regional budgets were prone to being swindled, with funds allocated for social aid most commonly embezzled.
The Home Affairs Ministry has issued a regulation on social aid programs but Roy said it did not provide a mechanism to ensure that the money would not end up being used for political campaigns.
The misuse of social aid appears to be commonplace and not only in the regions. A Supreme Audit Agency’s (BPK) 2011 audit shows that at least eight ministries failed to provide full accountability for their social aid programs in 2010.
The eight ministries’ total 2010 allocation for social aid was Rp 56.78 trillion (US$6.13 billion). As much as Rp 2.79 trillion or 4.91 percent was mismanaged and lacked accountability, according to the BPK
Roy said that it was not uncommon for regional heads to increase social aid spending ahead of elections. In Jakarta, for instance, the administration allocated Rp 1.36 trillion for grant and social aid in 2012.
This figure is three times higher than the budget allocation in 2010, which was only Rp 434 billion,
according to the IBC.
“The money is disbursed based on proposals from organizations and individuals. There are no clear criteria for the recipients. It is very subjective,” Roy said, adding that it was not impossible that the money was channeled to organizations linked to incumbents.
The IBC is calling on the Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) to begin work before the campaign period starts, saying that it is crucial to ensure a fair election.
Under the local administration’s law, gubernatorial candidates can receive up to Rp 50 million from private donors and up to Rp 350 million from institutions or businesses.
Critics, however, believe that candidates often use fake identities or addresses in order to secure more funds from a single donor.
Alex’s campaign manager, Suharso Monoarfa, said that he guaranteed that Alex Noerdin did not use South Sumatra administration funds for his campaign.
He stated that his team was now preparing the data on the campaign funding along with accountants and auditors to independently monitor the flow of funds. “All the funds are accountable and audited for the public. We will have up-to-date data for the commission,” he said.
Jokowi also dismissed allegations that he had been using regional funds to finance his campaign, telling reporters in Jakarta that he used his own money and vehicle to travel from Surakarta to the capital.
Fauzi’s campaign team did not return calls seeking comments on Sunday.