The Jakarta Post
The management of the preemployment card, a government-funded unemployment benefit and skills training program, has defended the program following public criticism over conflicts of interest and a lack of transparency, with a spokesman pointing out that the program was “direct assistance” that did not involve procurement of goods and services.
The management’s director of communications, partnerships and ecosystem development Panji Ruky said on Monday that the government had determined that his office did not procure any goods or services from its eight existing partners. The decision was made based on consultations with government agencies and ministries, including the National Public Procurement Agency (LKPP).
“It is essentially direct assistance,” Panji told an online briefing on Monday. “There is noncash assistance in terms of aid for online courses and cash assistance in terms of incentives to the recipients.”
The program, aimed at helping people whose job or small business has been hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, has come under public scrutiny because it partners with online learning platform Skill Academy, linked to a former staffer of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
Education technology company Ruangguru, the parent company of Skill Academy, is led by Adamas Belva Devara, who previously served on the President's millennial expert staff. As a result of the controversy, he resigned from his post on April 21.
The program management has also been mired in controversies related to its lack of transparency in appointing the partners, as it already partnered with eight platforms when it was launched on April 11. Apart from Skill Academy, the partners include e-commerce firms Bukalapak and Tokopedia, as well as start-ups Pintaria and Sekolahmu, among others.
If the program qualified as goods or services procurement, Presidential Regulation No. 16/2018 on the procurement of goods and services stipulates that it would need to be carried out in a transparent manner.
The program is now open to any organizations wanting to become a partner, as long as they meet the requirements, such as operating on a national scale, having the necessary information and technology systems and partnering with training institutions, said Panji.
“We are open to all parties, there is no special way [to partner with the program], no limit on the number of partners or any specific preferences,” he added.
Offering over 2,000 online courses, more than 8 million applicants had registered for the program to receive the Rp 3.5 million benefit as of Monday.