The Jakarta Post
The victims of the Lapindo mudflow in Sidoarjo, East Java, will have to postpone spending Rp 781 billion (US$60 million) in compensation until after the Idul Fitri celebrations because of a prolonged document-verification process.
The compensation is a loan from the central government to PT Minarak Lapindo Jaya (MLJ), the unit of a holding group belonging to business tycoon Aburizal Bakrie, which is responsible for paying for the victims' land that was engulfed in the mud.
'We've only received 44 files from MLJ today. Not all the files relating to affected residents have been recorded as clear, as some still need to be verified again,' the Lapindo Mudflow Mitigation Agency (BPLS) protection and social empowerment working group leader Priambodo said at the Sidoarjo regency hall on Friday.
He said the data that still needed to be re-verified included differences between the names in bank account books and the recipients' names on identity cards and the value of their assets engulfed by the mud.
After they have been verified again by the BPLS, according to data from the Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP), the files will be sent to the State Treasury Service Office (KPPN) to transfer the remaining funds to the victims.
According to Priambodo, the BPLS will work in accordance with the number of files submitted by MLJ.
Even if the BPLS was able to verify 100 files each working day, it could take around 40 days to complete as 3,337 files need to be processed, so it is unlikely the victims will have the money for the Idul Fitri celebrations on July 17 and 18.
BPLS spokesman Dwinanto Hesti Prasetyo confirmed Priambodo's statement and said the BPLS would not immediately submit the files to the central KPPN in Jakarta.
'We could hand over one file at a time to Jakarta, but for the sake of efficiency, we will send between 400 and 500 of the completed files to Jakarta,' said Dwinanto.
Meanwhile, MLJ managing director Andi Darussalam Tabusalla, who monitored the verification process on the first day, said the presidential decree on the disbursement of the Rp 781 billion bailout fund for MLJ to compensate the victims was signed by President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo on Friday.
'We received a copy of the decree at around 6 p.m. local time. Should the government need to revise some of the agreements, by the Public Works and Public Housing minister or Finance minister, we will be understanding,' said Darussalam.
Earlier, Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimoeljono said after a limited Cabinet meeting at the State Palace on Monday that the government and Lapindo would sign an agreement before the funds were disbursed.
The presidential regulation stipulates that Lapindo will pay compensation to the government within four years with an interest rate of 4.8 percent per year.
The Lapindo mudflow, which allegedly began at the mining site of Lapindo Inc. in Sidoarjo on May 29, 2006, engulfed around 800 hectares encompassing 15 villages located in three districts.
Thousands of residents living in the area were displaced and forced to take shelter.
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