NGOs demand probe into BRR allegations

Tuesday, September 12, 2006
By nias

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Anticorruption watchdogs are urging an exhaustive probe of possible irregularities in rebuilding projects at the Aceh and Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR).

The Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) and the Aceh Working Group (AWG) said Friday the agency’s alleged graft was “systemic”, so the investigation must be thorough.

After a meeting Thursday with Vice President Jusuf Kalla in Jakarta, BRR chairman Kuntoro Mangkusubroto said there may have been some violations of official procedure in carrying out Aceh’s reconstruction projects, saying they were due to the emergency nature of the work.Kuntoro thanked the ICW for revealing the violations and vowed to reorganize the agency to prevent the problem from recurring.

An ICW report cited the agency’s direct appointment of partner companies in carrying out five goods and services projects worth some Rp 23.8 billion (US$2.6 million).

The ICW and the AWG dismissed the argument that emergency reasons prompted the direct appointment of companies to handle such projects as public relations, logistics, publishing books and brochures, destroying unwanted drugs and designing housing development plans.

The law permits the agency to make direct appointments of firms to deal with certain reconstruction projects, such as rebuilding houses for survivors of the devastating tsunami that struck the region in 2004.

ICW coordinator Teten Masduki said the allegations are similar to those faced by General Elections Commission (KPU) members charged with violating regulations in the procurement of election materials. She said the BRR’s alleged corruption should be brought to court, as the KPU’s has.

KPU chief Nazaruddin Syamsuddin and several other officials have been sent to jail for graft, and some KPU members are still facing charges.

“The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has no reason to pass over the BRR’s graft cases, and none of the officials involved have legal impunity,” Teten said.

The government, she added, should also be held accountable.

The ICW and the AWG said the investigation is crucial to upholding justice and maintaining public trust for the BRR among the Acehnese people and international donors.

Teten said he had received a report from reliable sources in Aceh that the finance minister had fired T. Tyas, head of the treasurer’s office in Aceh, for “leaking” information to the public on the disbursement of reconstruction funds.

AWG coordinator Rusdi Marpaung also questioned the BRR’s decision to give a portion of the reconstruction funds to the military for security and defense.

“The BRR was established not to support the military but to rebuild Aceh, which was ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami,” he said.

According to Rusdi, the BRR allocated 7.19 percent of its Rp 3.9 trillion budget in 2005 for security and defense, while the housing and women’s affairs sectors received only 8.12 percent and 0.8 percent respectively.

Rafendy Djamin, coordinator of the Human Rights Working Group, said the “systemic” corruption in the BRR allegedly involved cronies of agency officials in Jakarta.

Prosecutors have also reportedly launched a graft probe into a BRR book publishing project.

“The investigation should not stop at the book project but must be extended to all other cases. A thorough probe into the cases is a test for Indonesia’s credibility in the eyes of international donors,” he said.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Saturday, September 02, 2006

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September 2006