The Jakarta Post
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has asserted that those found guilty of corruption relating to COVID-19 relief funds could face the death penalty.
"Public safety is the highest law. We have no choice but to punish those who commit corruption during a disaster with the death penalty,” KPK chairman Firli Bahuri said on Wednesday in a meeting with the House of Representatives Commission III overseeing legal affairs.
The 2001 Anticorruption Law stipulates that those found to have committed corruption or self-enrichment offenses that cause state losses during a national disaster may be sentenced to death.
He added that the antigraft body had identified four areas of the government’s COVID-19 response that were prone to corruption, namely goods and services procurement, third party donations, budget reallocation and aid distribution.
The KPK had also formed a task force to oversee these sectors.
"We collaborate with ministries and various agencies. We’ve also asked for the National Police’s assistance to monitor the use of the budget and the distribution of social aid to remote areas.”
The government has allocated an extra Rp 405.1 trillion (US$24.6 billion) in funds to handle the COVID-19 outbreak, which includes Rp 75 trillion for healthcare spending and Rp 110 trillion for social safety net programs.
However, anticorruption activists have raised concerns that the KPK may be powerless to investigate acts of corruption because of the strict bureaucratic arrangements introduced through the revised KPK Law.
Commission III lawmakers have urged the KPK to take firm action against corruption during the outbreak, following the government’s issuance of Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) No. 1/2020, which gives it leeway to fund its COVID-19 battle.
The regulation enables the government to widen the state budget deficit threshold to about 5 percent of the GDP from 3 percent at present. With the higher deficit threshold, the government can increase spending on relief efforts.
Arteria Dahlan of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) said the KPK should use this moment to show the public its new “style”, which focuses on prevention over the prosecution of graft suspects.
“In addition to overseeing the procurement of goods and services and the use of donations, the KPK should oversee the policymaking process. Prevention is needed. […] We want the KPK to protect the government and provide recommendations for bad policies.” he said.
He added that the KPK should also monitor the government’s appointment of partners for its programs.
Arteria referred to government’s choice of education startup Ruangguru for its preemployment card project. The CEO of the company, Belva Devara, is a former special aide to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
Other lawmakers have also called on the KPK to monitor such matters.
“Vendors have been appointed without proper tenders. This is uncommon for a Rp 5.7 trillion project in a time of crisis, especially when the program participants only receive access to basic virtual classes that they could get for free on the internet,” said Aboebakar Alhabsyi of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).