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Jakarta Post

Jokowi demands strong law enforcement against COVID-19 budget corruption

  • Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, June 16, 2020   /   05:11 pm
Jokowi demands strong law enforcement against COVID-19 budget corruption A resident shows a social aid card for staple food assistance at Campurejo subdistrict in Kediri city, East Java on May 12. The aid comes in the form of food parcels provided by the government for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, (Antara/Prasetia Fauzan)

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has called on law enforcement officers to work hard to anticipate and act decisively against his functionaries found to be taking advantage of the current pandemic to enrich themselves.

Jokowi made the request before ministers, regional heads, the National Police, as well as officials from the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK), the Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP), the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Attorney General's Office during the opening of a national coordination meeting on Monday.

The President stated that the government was not playing when it came to accountability and that efforts to prevent corruption would be prioritized to realize good governance in the use of the state budget for COVID-19 countermeasures.

“But if there are those who are still stubborn, if there is an intention for corruption, there is a mens rea, please ladies and gentlemen, bite them hard. The state’s money must be saved, we must maintain the people’s trust,” Jokowi said as livestreamed on the Presidential Secretariat’s YouTube channel.

The government has increased the budget allocation for the acceleration of COVID-19 handling and the recovery of the national economy to Rp 686.2 trillion (US$48 million) from Rp 677.2 trillion, as reported by Finance Minister Sri Mulyani during the meeting.

The President said that such a large amount of funds required good budgetary management with simple procedures to provide on-target and maximum output for the people during this crisis.

Read also: Experts, activists call for heightened public scrutiny of COVID-19 policies, funding

“If there is a potential case, please immediately warn the government officials and do not leave them mired in [corruption]. Build an early warning system, strengthen good governance that is transparent and accountable,” he added.

Jokowi went on to say that law enforcement must work in line with corruption prevention in the fight against the coronavirus.

The President called for increased synergy between external inspection agencies and law enforcement officers. He also requested that the BPKP and the National Public Procurement Agency (LKPP) strengthen focus on efforts to prevent corruption.

Echoing Jokowi’s statement, National Police chief Gen. Idham Azis warned that the ease in disbursing COVID-19 funds should not be misused for corruption, saying he would not hesitate to act against anyone being convicted of such actions.

“In a pandemic situation like this, if there is a misuse, the National Police will never hesitate to brush off the crimes,” Idham said in a statement on Monday, as quoted by kompas.com.

He said the National Police had formed a special task force under its criminal investigation department (Bareskrim) to crack down on corruption practices.

Read also: Perppu on COVID-19 aid puts graft fight at stake

The KPK also said that it would act decisively against corruption involving the COVID-19 budget, including cases of bribery, receiving kickbacks, gratuities and conflicts of interest.

KPK chairman Firli Bahuri said perpetrators of corruption in times of national disasters such as the current pandemic could be prosecuted with capital punishment as regulated in the 2001 Corruption Law.