The Jakarta Post
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has found in a recent study several irregularities with the management and digital courses offered by the government’s preemployment card program.
The program was initially designed as a training program to equip the unemployed and fresh graduates with new skills that would help them enter the job market. However, it was later repurposed as a combination of cash aid and training subsidy following massive layoffs across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration allocated Rp 20 trillion (US$1.4 million) to be disbursed for 5.6 million participants who will receive Rp 600,000 monthly for four months and Rp 150,000 after filling out the program’s survey.
Each recipient can also receive Rp 1 million to pay for various up-skilling courses, ranging from marketing to fishing.
Though the KPK approved of the redesign, it also found some issues related to its management and courses offered.
Since the first batch of online registrations in April, around 680,000 individuals have been accepted to the preemployment card program as of May, out of a total of 9.4 million applicants.
KPK commissioner Alexander Marwata said the Manpower Ministry and the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan) had created a list of 1.7 million workers who were laid off during the outbreak. The commission further found that only around 143,000 of them were accepted in the preemployment card program.
KPK’s deputy for corruption prevention, Pahala Nainggolan, said some of the targeted individuals were senior citizens who were not proficient in using the internet. Meanwhile, registration could only be done online.
The commission suggested that authorities contact laid-off workers listed by the Manpower Ministry and the BPJS Ketenagakerjaan by telephone first, as they were the main target of the program.
Alexander also questioned the Rp 30.8 billion allocated for facial recognition technology to verify participants’ identities. He recommended that the government verify identities by cross-checking participants’ citizen identification numbers with the Home Ministry’s Population and Civil Registration rather than procure new technologies for such matters.
Alexander highlighted loopholes in the program as it had no control mechanism to check whether participants had really attended and finished courses.
“Training institutions have already issued certificates for participants, even they may not have finished all their course packages yet,” Alexander said.
Participants will also receive monthly cash assistance of Rp 600,000, regardless of whether they participated in any courses at all, potentially wasting Rp 1 million allocated for the courses.
The KPK urged the government to establish a control mechanism to guarantee that participants took and finished their courses, such as by implementing interactive learning methods.
Poor courses curation
The antigraft body found after studying the list with the Indonesian Training Institute Association and the Manpower Ministry that only around 250 of 1,895 offered courses fulfilled the standards for online training.
Pahala said some courses taught basic skills that did not require a class at all or necessitate face-to-face training sessions.
In the study, the KPK also found that 89 percent of 327 random-picked courses were already offered free courses on other learning platforms such as prakerja.org, which was established to challenge the preemployment card program.
Alexander urged the government to take out courses from the program that are being offered for free on other platforms, as well as invite more competent parties to help curate the course.
Conflict of interest
The program could also present a conflict of interest, as the antigraft body found that online education platforms distributing the courses were also the ones producing the classes.
For example, online education platform Pintaria offered 199 courses for preemployment card holders, 69 of which were produced by HarukaEdu, the company that owns the platform.
Similarly, 117 of 277 courses offered in Ruangguru platform are also made by its subsidiary Skill Academy.
“We found at least 250 problematic courses with a potential conflict of interest,” Pahala said. “It shouldn’t be like this because it weakens the curation.”
Moreover, the government picked the eight partnering companies without a proper mechanism for procuring goods and services..
The KPK urged the government to remove the 250 courses that potentially have a conflict of interest. The government should also ask the legal opinion of the Attorney General’s Office regarding the procurement mechanism.
Alexander said the antigraft body had handed over its recommendations to the Office of Coordinating Economic Minister and other related ministries in late-May. The KPK noted that the government had made some improvements on the program based on its suggestions, including postponing the fourth batch of new registrations.
The Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister also said it would provide more offline courses after the outbreak had subsided, Pahala went on to say.