Basuki Ups the Ante in Jakarta Budget Brouhaha
Jakarta. Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama of Jakarta on Tuesday revealed more irregularities inside the city’s budget proposal, which has been revised by the Jakarta City Council, saying it is filled with programs not proposed or even needed by city officials.
The revised budget plan was uploaded to the city government’s official website, Jakarta.go.id, and the governor’s personal site Ahok.org, referring to Basuki’s popular nickname.
“I intentionally uploaded City Hall’s version of the budget proposal and the City Council’s [...] so people can judge for themselves which of the two is more appropriate,” Basuki said on Tuesday.
Among the Rp 12.1 trillion ($933 million) worth of unsolicited programs is the Rp 3 billion sanitation fee for the Marunda low-cost apartments in North Jakarta.
Then there’s the Rp 2.4 billion project to refurbish the Lubang Buaya urban ward’s office in East Jakarta. The ward chief, Fathoni, confirmed on Tuesday that his office was in need of a renovation but said he had only requested funds of Rp 100 million.
Basuki also highlighted the Rp 30 billion project to publish a three-part biography of the governor and distribute them to schools across the capital, which he said was never proposed by his administration.
“The council’s budget also includes the procurement of 3-D scanners, uninterruptible power supply [for schools] and many other programs that are not part of the city administration’s plans. This is what I’m fighting against,” he said. “I am not fighting for myself. This is a fight to build a more transparent budgeting system.”
“Such irregularities may occur across Indonesia; they may even mar the state budget,” he added.
In an unprecedented move, Basuki has refused to submit the Rp 90 trillion budget proposal approved by the City Council to the Home Affairs Ministry, submitting instead what he calls the low-cost version — at Rp 78 trillion — that his administration initially proposed.
Incensed, the City Council voted overwhelmingly last Thursday to launch an inquiry into his refusal to submit its version of the budget to the Home Affairs Ministry — a process that could potentially lead to Basuki’s impeachment.
In response, Basuki accused the councilors of inserting unauthorized and dubious spending programs into City Hall’s budget, and just a day later filed a criminal complaint with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) over the Rp 12 trillion markup.
The United Development Party (PPP) on Tuesday became the second party to withdraw support for the inquiry, after the National Democrat Party (NasDem) reneged on its “yea” vote on Monday.
The National Awakening Party (PKB) is mulling a similar move, PKB politician Hasbillah Ilyas said, adding that the party “does not want to be seen as supporting a troublesome budget proposal.”
But these three parties only represent a minority. Those in favor of the inquiry still make up 85 out of 106 members of the City Council.
Support for a probe has dwindled since Basuki approached the KPK with allegations that similar acts of budget manipulation are a common part of legislative deliberations year after year.
The governor also submitted audits by the city’s Inspectorate General and the State Finance Development Comptroller (BPKP) that revealed the council inserted numerous programs into the budget after City Hall submitted it for deliberation.
In response, the council lawyered up on Tuesday and vowed to sue Basuki over three main issues: defamation, forging the 2015 budget, and attempts to bribe council members.
“We will file these complaints with the police on Monday, at the latest,” said the newly appointed lawyer, Razman Arif Nasution.
Razman recently shot to fame for representing former National Police chief candidate Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan in a KPK bribery investigation.
Basuki has throughout the brouhaha garnered praise and support from activists, citizens as well as his own staff, who see his effort as a milestone in the fight against corruption.
“Ahok must fight on. Let [the recent events] be a lesson and example to other regional leaders; should they find any irregularities in their respective budgets, they should not be afraid to report them,” said Ade Irawan, Indonesia Corruption Watch coordinator.
Although Basuki has remained uncompromising, his deputy, Djarot Saiful Hidayat, has not.
Djarot on Sunday staged a meeting with his fellow Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politicians — council speaker Prasetio Edi Marsudi and Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo — to discuss possible resolutions to the increasingly heated standoff.
The PDI-P, the biggest party at the council with 28 members, has so far been adamant about plans for an inquiry.
Tjahjo has also defended the council, saying there was no such thing as “unwarranted programs” once the budget passed the deliberation stage.
It would be impossible for councilors to insert more programs without the government’s consent, he added.
Basuki on Tuesday said he never asked Djarot to conduct the meeting, adding that he would not bow down to pressure from the council or the Home Affairs Ministry.
“Djarot and I are friends. But if he feels uncomfortable about [defending the original budget] because of his political affiliations or loyalties, then he should stay out of this,” he said. “I am fine on my own, if not better.”
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