Minister approves new KPK office building
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Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo said that his ministry had earmarked a budget for the construction of the Corruption Eradication Commission’s (KPK) new building, but the final word on disbursement would be given by the House of Representatives.
“As far as I am concerned, we need approval from the House Commission III to drop the asterisk on the proposal. The process is under way and when we get approval, we will release the funds immediately,” Agus told reporters on Tuesday. Agus was referring to the hold lawmakers have placed on finalizing the KPK’s budget request.
The KPK proposed a budget of Rp 225.712 billion (US$24.15 million) for a new headquarters in 2008, saying that its current building on Jl. Rasuna Said in Kuningan, South
Jakarta, was over capacity.
Nine political parties on the House Commission III on law and human rights have not made any decision on the new building, telling the KPK to rent additional space instead.
All nine parties suggested that the Finance Ministry rent vacant buildings for the KPK, and for all other state bodies without state-owned headquarters, including the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and the National Narcotics Agency (BNN).
Agus earlier said that the government had earmarked between Rp 60 billion and Rp 80 billion for the construction of the new KPK building.
If approved, the budget would be disbursed in three stages between 2012 and 2014, the first being Rp 16.7 billion later this year.
Responding to the House’s intransigence, the KPK’s leaders devised a public donation initiative, which until late last week had raised Rp 100 million.
The House Commission III was scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday to make a final decision on the KPK budget proposal, but decided to cancel it.
“There’s no agenda for the meeting in our schedule,” Commission III chairman I Gede Pasek Suardika told reporters.
Pasek also said that the final decision on the KPK budget proposal would be referred to the House budget committee.
The Democratic Party and the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) are reported to have given their
approval to the proposal.
Meanwhile, KPK critics said that the anti-graft agency needed to undergo a thorough audit before it could use state budget for future projects.
KPK Watch director Yusuf Sahide said that closer scrutiny was needed as the agency’s performance was insubstantial when compared with the budget it spent on its day-to-day operations.
Yusuf said that last year the KPK retrieved Rp 134.65 billion ($14.32 million) in graft money, which is substantially less than the Rp 635 billion budget it spent in the same year.
“The graft money that they retrieve should be higher than the state funding they get,” the KPK Watch director said.
Yusuf also criticized the light sentences that handed down by the Jakarta Corruption Court. “Investigations have only resulted in lenient punishments. Corrupt officials can steal massive amounts of funds, yet most of them only get small fines and short prison terms,” he said.
The KPK Watch said that corruption had been on the rise in the past decade despite the KPK’s campaign.
“Corrupt officials see that they can get away with their crimes with very little consequences. As a result, they’ll keep on doing what they have done,” Yusuf said.
Secretary-general of the Indonesian Association of Law Master’s Graduates (PMHI) Iwan Gunawan said, “Whether or not they get a new building is a secondary issue. What’s most important is that we find out whether the KPK’s performance has been optimal.” (png)