The Jakarta Post
The House of Representatives’ budget committee has agreed to endorse Regulation in Liew of Law (Perppu) No. 1/2020 on COVID-19 pandemic response amid public outcry over contentious articles that would grant the government the power to allocate large sums of money and a legal shield protecting the execution.
Despite agreeing to endorse the regulation in a plenary meeting scheduled for May 12, the House members, however, asked the government to discuss the 2021 state budget with the House through the normal process, not through a presidential regulation (Perpres), like the revision to the 2020 budget.
"For the 2021 state budget, we want the government's commitment to discuss it with the House as usual,” Supriyanto of the Gerindra Party said in a virtual meeting with government representatives on Monday.
Some Gerindra faction lawmakers, as well as those of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) previously voiced their objections against the executive order, raising concerns that it could overstep the House’s right to deliberate the state budget.
The lawmakers also previously objected to Article 27 on government officials' impunity.
However, given the urgency, both factions agreed to discuss the Perppu in a plenary session.
"COVID-19 has had great impacts on health, economics and public welfare. Therefore, we understand the urgency of this regulation," Dolfie Othniel Frederic Palit of the PDI-P said.
The Perppu allows the government to extend the state budget deficit beyond the legal cap of 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and allocate the spending for programs related to COVID-19 handling without the approval of the House. The spending will be declared costs to save the country from the outbreak, and any officials executing the related policies “in good faith and according to the law” cannot be subject to criminal or civil charges.
It has sparked anger among civil groups that challenged the Perppu at the Constitutional Court over fears that it could lead to budget misappropriation and embezzlement if passed. In their petition filed with the court on April 9, the groups demanded the revocation of contentious provisions stipulating that officials responsible for fiscal and monetary policies cannot be criminally charged when using the state budget to counter the negative economic impacts of the health crisis.
Hendrawan Supratikno of the PDI-P said the party would support the government's efforts to weather the outbreak impacts. However, he reminded that the Constitution stipulates that "all citizens are equal under the law"
"Article 27 [of the Perppu] is a modification of Article 48 Law No. 9/2016 on the prevention and resolution of financial system crises. There should be additional sentences in the Perppu that give assertion that they cannot go against the law ‘unless there is an abuse of authority' so that policymakers be careful,” he said.
In addition to the government coalition, parties outside the coalition, namely the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the Democratic Party and the National Mandate Party (PAN) have also agreed to ratify the Perppu into law.
"Regarding Article 27, PAN thinks that it does not violate any legal product because we already have it in existing legal products," Eko Patrio of PAN said.