Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan

Donor agencies, international organizations and the body in charge of rebuilding Aceh and Nias promised Wednesday to ensure public accountability and to make it easy for people to file complaints.

Forms will be made available at the offices of all organizations involved in the reconstruction work, and detailed information will be made available on all reconstruction projects, said organizers of a two-day workshop held in Medan, North Sumatra.

The agreement on these measures follows Tuesday’s signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) and Transparency International Indonesia (TII).

Rizal Malik, the TII secretary, said the mechanisms to be adopted by all agencies involved in reconstruction of areas affected by the 2004 earthquake and tsunami would help prevent the abuse of funds and donations intended for victims.

All agencies “will be transparent over project details, from planning, design, funding and implementation”, he said.

There has been a variety of complaints targeted at the BRR and organizations involved in the channeling of aid for tsunami victims.

Rizal said the new mechanisms “would ensure public participation” and help reduce these complaints.

The BRR itself has received over 1,000 complaints, including from contractors, non-governmental organizations, officials and the press, said Kevin Evans, a BRR official in charge of government integrity.

Most complaints are about the supply of goods and services, and suspected corruption, Evans said.

Geumala Yatim, of the World Bank’s multidonor fund for disaster-hit regions, cited indications of corruption in 5 percent of the US$530 million channeled by the fund.

However, Geumala said this figure was “still tolerable”.

Workshop participants recommended a dialog with businesspeople, mainly contractors, who were said to be both “victims and perpetrators” of corruption in projects for Nias and Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.

The forum also called on the authorities to stop the extortion of all parties involved in the reconstruction of Aceh and Nias.

Source: The Jakarta Post, 9 November 2006

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