Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who has been praised for his tight budget-keeping and commitment to fighting corruption, took clashed with the Jakarta City Council (DPRD) on several high-profile occasions. While he has been in office, Ahok has always kept a close eye on the city’s coffers, lest some unscrupulous councilors attempt a corrupt cash grab (remember the UPS power generator scandal of 2015?).
When Ahok appealed to the Constitutional Court to rescind the law requiring him, an incumbent, to go on a 4-month mandated leave during the official election campaign period, he said his main concern was that, whoever took temporary charge over the Jakarta Provincial Government could tamper with the 2017 draft of the provincial budget (APBD).
Now that the 2017 draft of the APBD was finalized and passed by acting Governor Soni Sumarsono last Monday, much to the delight of certain members of the city council, it’s clear that what Ahok worried would happen, did happen.
Merdeka.com noted some comparisons between Ahok’s draft and the final version of the 2017 APBD. In total, Ahok’s draft for the budget stood at Rp 68.76 trillion, but the one that was passed by Soni Sumarsono and the DPRD amounted to Rp 70.19 trillion.
Some of the budget increases were directed towards the operations and allowances of the DPRD themselves. For example, Ahok allocated Rp 34.27 trillion for the DPRD, but for the final version the figure was raised to Rp 35.35 trillion.
The DPRD’s secretariat enjoyed a huge boost in the final version of the budget. Ahok originally allocated Rp 100.1 billion for them, but this was raised to Rp 143.6 billion following a discussion between Sumarsono and the DPRD.
And then there were smaller raises, like Rp 4 billion for the DPRD members’ drivers, which was approved after the councilors complained that they had to pay for their drivers from their own pockets (DPRD members earn around Rp 40 million a month in salary, excluding the many other benefits they receive).
When asked why he and the DPRD seemed to have moved so fast to finalize the 2017 APBD, Sumarsono said he wants the government and the legislators to hit the ground running in the new year.
But Indonesian Parliament Watch (Formappi) Coordinator Sebastian Salang believes the DPRD took advantage of Ahok’s absence to insert their own budget proposals as Sumarsono seems to be more accommodating.
“If the process was this fast, it could be that the DPRD wanted their budget proposals realized without any notes (ie intervention from Sumarsono). So if all of the DPRD’s proposals were realized, then they worked together to quickly pass [the APBD] so no one could change it,” Sebastian Salang said, as quoted by Merdeka.
Ahok has only been gone on leave for around two months, and already something this questionable has happened. We hope that for the city’s sake that Ahok, or at least somebody else that shares his commitment against fighting corruption, will be able to lead this capital.