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Jakarta Post

Activists warn of potential graft as govt sets aside billions for COVID-19 relief

  • Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, April 10, 2020   /   09:33 am
Activists warn of potential graft as govt sets aside billions for COVID-19 relief Health workers take a break after a prolonged period of COVID-19 swab testing in Cimanggis, Depok, West Java, on April 8. (Antara/Asprilla Dwi Adha)

Activists from the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra) and Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) have warned of the potential for graft as the government allocates billions of dollars to provide relief for those hardest hit by the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo previously announced that the government would expand state spending by up to Rp 405.1 trillion (US$24.6 billion) in the wake of the outbreak, including Rp 110 trillion for social safety net programs that would aid people affected by the outbreak.

Fitra secretary-general Misbah Hasan said the social safety net programs could easily miss their intended recipients due to faulty data.

“The ones affected by the epidemic are not only the poor but those in [COVID-19] vulnerable areas, which the government has not mapped out yet,” Misbah said at a virtual press discussion on Thursday.

If the data was not clear, Misbah said some could receive double the allocated aid while others received less or none at all.

He also said funds allocated to purchase medical supplies, personal protective equipment and test kits could be embezzled and bribery could take place in the procurement process. 

ICW activist Wana Alamsyah also said purchases could be a hot zone for graft, as the ICW had recorded 59 corruption cases involving medical equipment procurement with an estimated state loss of Rp 126.1 billion since 2017.

“We also have a bad precedent in healthcare procurement as our former health minister Siti Fadilah was sentenced for graft related to avian influenza vaccine procurement in 2005,” Wana said.

Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chief Firli Bahuri said on Wednesday that the antigraft agency would cooperate with national and regional COVID-19 task forces to prevent corruption in procurements. 

Previously, Firli also said the KPK would pursue the death penalty for those who embezzled COVID-19-related funds.