The Jakarta Post
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo has said that he will evaluate a recent presidential regulation that has increased car purchase allowances for top officials.
'This is not a good time. First, for economic reasons; second, in the name of justice; and third, in light of the rise in fuel prices,' he said upon arriving at Soekarno-Hatta airport on Sunday.
Jokowi said that the rise in allowances had escaped his notice, as he did not pay attention to every letter that he signed, adding that Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro should have advised against the decision because of its public impact.
The government recently issued Presidential Regulation No. 39/2015 on car purchase allowance for state officials, which stipulates a rise to Rp 210.8 million (US$16,190). The previous allowance set in 2010 was Rp 116.6 million.
Those eligible for the allowance are the 560 lawmakers from the House of Representatives and 132 from the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), as well as justices at the Supreme Court (40 people) and Constitutional Court (nine people). It also applies to members of the Supreme Audit Agency (five people) and Judicial Commission (seven people).
Bambang has argued that the allowance is nothing new, and that the raise was due to inflation.
The Cabinet Secretariat elaborated on its website that the raise followed a proposal from House Speaker Setya Novanto, who sent a letter on Jan. 5 to President Jokowi, requesting a revision to the car allowance because of increasing inflation.
Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto, in a letter sent on Jan. 28, asked the Finance Minister to consider the House speaker's request. Bambang replied with his approval for the proposal on Feb. 18, although the final amount was below Setya's demand of Rp 250 million.
Budget transparency activist Apung Widadi from the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency, or FITRA, said that the car allowance program was prone to corruption, as there was no guarantee that the officers would use the money only for transportation.
'The allowance can trigger corruption since it can only be paid as a down payment. Officials should seek financial resources to pay in installments,' Apung argued.
FITRA demanded that Jokowi fulfill his presidential campaign promises to implement budget efficiency and prioritize the public interest.
Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Yuddy Chrisnandi, meanwhile, downplayed the criticism.
'The amount has been evaluated by the Finance Ministry based on state finance principles,' he said.
Yuddy said he appreciated the public criticism of the allowance program, but insisted that the government had breached no regulations.
'As long as the allowances given to state officials are accountable and help bureaucratic efficiency, [the public] should respond wisely,' he said.
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