Ministries suspected of misusing social aid funds
Hans Nicholas Jong
The Jakarta Post
The Election Supervisory Committee (Bawaslu) is due to summon officials from 10 ministries over allegations of the misuse of social aid funds for election campaigning.
Bawaslu commissioner Daniel Zuchron said on Tuesday night that Bawaslu had resorted to summoning the officials as they had ignored previous requests to provide data on their social aid spending.
'Bawaslu has asked for data and information on the allocation of social aid funds in 2012 and 2013, as well as the 2014 plans for each regency or city and a list of civil society organizations that have received the funds from the 10 ministries,' he said.
The ministries in question are the Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry; the Transportation Ministry; the Youth and Sports Ministry; the Law and Human Rights Ministry; the Agriculture Ministry; the Communications and Information Ministry; the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry; the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry; the Disadvantaged Regions Ministry, and the Forestry Ministry.
According to Daniel, Bawaslu initially sent letters requesting the data on Nov. 19 last year. 'Only four ministries submitted their data,' he said.
Bawaslu sent another request to the six remaining ministries on Dec. 10, Daniel added.
'Through Feb. 10, the only ministry that had not submitted any data or documentation, despite two requests, was the Forestry Ministry,' he said.
While only one ministry has failed to submit its data, Bawaslu deems the remaining ministries as being uncooperative as most of them did not submit the list of civil society groups that had and/or would receive social aid funds.
Four ministries ' the transportation, law and human rights, communications and information, and energy and mineral resources ministries ' claim they do not have social aid funds to be distributed to the public, according to Daniel.
The Youth and Sports Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry and the Disadvantaged Regions Ministry, meanwhile, failed to include the list of civil society groups that had and would receive social aid funds on the documents that they submitted to the KPU.
Daniel said Bawaslu was conducting an investigation as it was tasked with monitoring all election processes, including campaigning. 'One of the focuses of our monitoring is the ministers who have become legislative candidates,' he said.
Currently, 10 ministers are aiming to contest legislative seats during the 2014 general election.
Five of them come from the ruling Democratic Party, while the others come from the National Mandate Party (PAN), the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).
According to Daniel, the social aid program was prone to abuse.
'First, the social aid program has become a populist policy in that it directly touches people's needs and problems,' Daniel said.
He added that often, political party paraphernalia were included with the disbursement of social aid funds, which were given to supporters of particular parties.
'Moreover, the disbursement usually coincides with political party events,' he said. 'Ministers have tremendous authority to determine the general guidelines for the management of the social aid funds.'
The portion from the 2013 state budget for social aid funds totaled Rp 69.5 trillion (US$5.76 billion).
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