House asks for 77 percent increase in foreign trip funds
Although already receiving a huge wave of public criticism against its foreign trips, the House of Representatives has now requested a 77 percent budget increase for journeys to 38 countries in 2013, taking the budget to more than Rp 248 billion (US$25.48 million). The House was given Rp 139.94 billion for 2012 trips.
The issue is currently being discussed with the government for inclusion in the 2013 state budget draft.
“The ears of our politicians in Senayan [location of the House building] are insensitive to criticisms,” Indonesia Budget Center (IBC) analyst Roy Salam said on Friday as quoted by kompas.com. Roy criticized comments from some House members who have compared their budget allocation to the funds given for ministerial trips, saying the House should have also monitored their foreign trips.
The Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA) reported that budget allocation for ministerial and institutional foreign trips has increased over the past few years, with Rp 18 trillion in 2011, Rp 24 trillion in 2012 and a planned Rp 21 trillion for 2013.
House Speaker Marzuki Alie recently cited public criticism against foreign trips as unfair, saying the House had made several adjustments and improvements related to the issue.
Marzuki said the House only allowed "comparative study tours" if they needed to draft a bill or revise at least 50 percent of a law.
“These criticisms aren't fair. House leaders have applied their highest efforts to ensure budget saving across the board. Our saving efforts are exceptional,” he claimed. (fzm/swd)