SBY wants the House to remove budget holds
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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is apparently coming down on the side of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in its budget stand-off with House of Representatives’ lawmakers on a new headquarters.
“What is well-planned in the state budget should be implemented. If there’s no extraordinary reason, let’s implement the programs,” Yudhoyono said on the sidelines of his visit to a horse farm in Moubukol, East Sumba, on Wednesday.
“I hear lawmakers put an asterisk on the budget. The House should not delay it. Otherwise people will not be able to enjoy the benefits,” referring to the holds lawmakers can place on deliberations.
One specific asterisk has been in recent news: the one placed on the KPK’s request for Rp 225.71 billion (US$24.15 million) for a new headquarters by lawmakers on House Commission III overseeing legal affairs.
Commission III lawmakers have suggested that the KPK ask the government to find a building for it to rent to avoid spending money on an expensive new building.
Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo, however, said that such a request would go on the back burner.’ “We have a few vacant [rental] properties, but the demand is high. Many state agencies, including ministries, don’t have headquarters. We must give priority to them,” Agus said on the sidelines of a meeting at the House on Wednesday.
Agus previously said that the House had refused to endorse the disbursement of Rp 200 billion that the ministry allocated for the office from the state budget.
A leader of House Commission III said on Wednesday that there had been no moves to remove the asterisk.
Commission III deputy chairman Aziz Syamsuddin said none of the nine political parties represented on the commission had submitted official statements that they would back the proposal.
Several Commission III lawmakers, however, said that lawmakers from their parties would now vote for the new building.
“The People’s Conscience Party [Hanura] has recently submitted an official statement advising of our change of decision on the matter. Our party has agreed to remove the asterisk on the KPK’s budget proposal, and thus supports the construction of a new office building,” Hanura lawmaker Syarifuddin Sudding told reporters on the sidelines of a House plenary meeting on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Democratic Party lawmaker I Gede Pasek Suardika said that his peers in the party had also agreed to lift the asterisk, in principal.
“We have terms and conditions, but we agree the construction plan,” Suardika, the chairman of Commission III, said.
A plenary session of the committee would be convened for a final decision on the project, he added.
The KPK said that its current headquarters in a 31-year-old leased building in Kuningan, South Jakarta, was designed to host 350 people – less than half of the commission’s 752 employees.
The commission has also arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned dozens of lawmakers from several parties in the Bank Indonesia (BI) vote-buying scandal, among several other cases.
The House’s refusal to back the proposal, first submitted in 2008, has recently spawned a public campaign to pay for the new building that has raised about Rp 100 million.
Some people have donated with a passion that has overcome the size of their contributions.
“A woman from a less fortunate background has been coming to our booth at the KPK building and donating Rp 1,100. She has been doing it for the last three days,” Ilian Deta Artasari from the Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) said on Wednesday.
The amount is about 10 US cents.
“Every time she’s here, she tells us repeatedly that her sole reason is to support the KPK in fighting graft,” Ilian said.
The woman said that she wanted to remain anonymous, Ilian added. “She just asks me to remember her as a person who doesn’t want to see her rich country getting down with corruption.”