Ministry approves Jakarta budget; residents suffer

Ministry approves Jakarta budget; residents suffer

Following deadlocked negotiations between Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and the City Council (DPRD), Jakarta might have to use the 2014 budget.

Typically, after the Home Ministry approves the city budget the Jakarta government can immediately disburse funds. But, with Ahok and the DPRD unable to agree, the city may be forced to use the budget from last year.

Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo gave the final word on the budget on Wednesday. "We don't want a delay, not even for one day. There is now a seven-day deadline. If the 2015 budget doesn't come through, Jakarta will have to use the 2014 budget," the minister announced.

Ahok accused the councilors of adding a questionable Rp 12.1 trillion (S$1.3 billion) to the budget. The current 2015 budget stands at Rp 73.08 trillion, slightly higher than last year's budget of Rp 72.9 trillion.

As a result of the budget delay, residents are struggling to maintain city programs.

The residents of Jagakarsa district in South Jakarta, for example, have to chip in to keep the integrated health services post (Posyandu) functioning.

"We have been using money that has been collected by the residents every week. It's enough for now," said local community member Fidiyah.

Fidiyah also said the contracted workers had not received their salaries for three months. "Luckily, none of them protested," he said.

However, he said, most of the staffers had not complained because they believed they would eventually be paid. "Besides the certainty over the budget disbursement, we also know that our leader fights for the right thing. So, we don't complain," Fidiyah said.

The rift between the city administration and City Council members over the draft 2015 budget has caused the execution of many programs to be delayed. The administration is allowed to disburse around 8 per cent of the budget in special instances such as basic salary and maintenance costs.

North Jakarta's Penjaringan district head Yani Wahyu said funding for social welfare projects had been cut drastically as a result of the delay. For example, he said, funding for Posyandu, PSN (a campaign against dengue fever) and an early childhood education (PAUD) centre had been cut or temporarily halted.

"To some extent, the budget delay does have a negative impact. I've asked my subordinates and residents to keep their spirits and heads up because this is just temporary," Yani said.

Construction projects and procurements will also likely be hampered by the delay.

Jakarta Financial and Asset Management Board (BPKAD) head Heru Budi Hartono said tenders for all projects could not be carried out before the budget was approved.

"We can only conduct tenders when the budget is approved. Right now we can't do any tenders because there are still no fixed allocations," Heru said on Wednesday.

He went on to say that construction tenders for school renovation and rehabilitation would also be hampered.

The head of the school infrastructure department at the Education Agency, Sarjoko, said that 96 schools were scheduled for renovation and rehabilitation this year.

"Out of the 96 schools under construction, 55 have had construction operations stalled for more than a year because funding was stopped in the 2014 budget cycle. Therefore, it is urgent that we restart renovation on the schools as soon as possible," Sardjoko said.

Meanwhile, in its first round of investigations, the councilors have called in Surabaya's Airlangga University graduate IT expert Gagat Sujono for an open-door questioning session regarding the electronic budgeting system. Gagat, along with several programmers, designed the e-budgeting system that is now used by the city administration.

He refused to talk to the media after the questioning. » legal war p9

Ahok vs DPRD timeline

- Nov. 13, 2014: Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama proposes draft 2015 budget (KUA-PPAS) amounting to Rp 76.8 trillion through letter no. 2525/-1.173 on Nov. 13 2014.

- Dec. 9, 2014: The City Council begins discussing the city's draft 2015 budget.

- Jan. 27, 2015: After countless delays, the Jakarta administration has finally approved its 2015 budget at Rp 73.08 trillion (US$5.8 billion), only about Rp 200 billion higher than the revised 2014 budget of Rp 72.9 trillion.

- Feb. 4, 2015: City administration sends 2015 budget document to Home Ministry.

- Feb. 25, 2015: Amid high tension between the City Council and the city administration, Ahok reveals some irregularities in the council's version of the draft 2015 budget.

- Feb. 26, 2015: City Council officially exercises right of inquiry.

- Feb. 27, 2015: Ahok reports budget irregularities to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

- March 5, 2015: A mediation session held by the Home Ministry fails to reconcile the Jakarta administration and the City Council.

- March 11, 2015: Seven councilors reports Ahok to the National Police for defamation.

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