Ministry thumbs nose at KPK
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Living up to its reputation as one of the government’s least honest ministries, the Religious Affairs Ministry has ignored the Corruption Eradication Commission’s (KPK) prompts to clean itself up.
KPK deputy chairman Busyro Muqoddas said the Religious Affairs Ministry has followed up on only four of the 48 recommendations given it by the commission.
“Our recommendations included suggestions on how the ministry had to reform some mechanisms that we consider rife with loopholes and have the potential to lead to corruption and other abuses,” Busyro said on Sunday.
According to the KPK, most problematic were the ministry’s management of haj pilgrimage funds and of human resources.
The commission issued similar recommendations to other ministries and government institutions in May as part of a preventive campaign.
It gave two months for the ministries to follow up. The Religious Affairs Ministry posted minor progress, albeit after the deadline passed.
Busyro said that the commission would keep a close eye on the ministry, especially after it launched a probe into a high-profile bribery scandal linked to Koran procurements at the ministry.
According to the commission, the Religious Affairs Ministry was the most corrupt institution of 22 government agencies it surveyed in 2011.
The ministry received 5.37 out of a possible 10 points, lagging behind the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, which received 5.44 points, and the Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry, which received 5.52 points.
The KPK previously announced that it had discovered irregularities in the management of Rp 1.7 trillion (US$180.2 million) in interest payments from deposits submitted by haj pilgrims to the ministry.
Last year, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) reported Rp 15.62 billion in unaccountable funds out of Rp 2.7 trillion allocated to the ministry to support its Islamic education directorate.
Religious Affairs Minister Sur-yadharma Ali, who is also the chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), said that he had sought clarification from the commission concerning its recommendations, and that he would provide whatever the KPK needed to investigate the Koran procurement scandal.
The minister also said that he had sent a request for clarification to the KPK concerning the commission’s recommendation. “I will not tolerate any kind of corruption within my ministry,” Suryadharma said.
Suryadharma also claimed that the ministry had made significant improvements after the BPK issued an “unqualified” opinion of its finances in 2011.
Former KPK deputy chairman M. Jasin has been installed as the ministry’s inspector general to reform the graft-riddled ministry. He joins Anggito Abimanyu, a reform-minded economist, who was recently named its director general for haj and umrah (minor haj) affairs.
“Pak Jasin’s presence in the ministry will obviously improve internal monitoring efforts. It is very helpful for us, because the ministry’s inspectorate has been very weak,” Busyro said.
Separately, Religious Affairs Ministry spokesman Zainuddin Daulay said that he was not aware of the KPK recommendations. “I have been my position for the past one year and I don’t know about the recommendations. But if there were any, I am confident that the secretary-general of the ministry would have followed up,” he told the Post.
Jasin denied that the ministry had been unresponsive.
“We are not idle. How can we be deemed ignorant while we are actually making improvements?” he said, adding that ministry had implemented 10 of 48 recommendations from the KPK.