City slammed for inflating funds for political parties
The Home Ministry has reprimanded the Jakarta administration for its plan to vastly hike funding for political parties next year without a solid legal basis.
In the 2018 city budget, which has been handed to the ministry for approval, the Jakarta administration allocates Rp 17.7 billion (US$1.3 million) to parties, almost 10 times last year’s Rp 1.8 billion.
The administration said it had increased the funding for each political party in Jakarta from Rp 410 per vote won in the last legislative election to Rp 4,000 per vote, on the basis that the central government had increased funding for political parties at the national level from Rp 108 to Rp 1,000 in the 2018 state budget.
Sumarsono, the ministry’s director general of regional autonomy, called the allocation irrational and illegal on Thursday, noting that the increase at the national level was based on Finance Minister Letter No. 277/ MK. 02/2017.
“The [Finance Ministry] regulation applies to the national level only. The question is, what is the legal basis for Jakarta to increase the funding?” the former acting Jakarta governor asked, calling the increase to Rp 4,000 per vote per year excessive.
To make it applicable at the regional level, including in Jakarta, Sumarsono said, there should be a revision of Government Regulation (PP) No. 5/2009 on financial assistance for political parties.
The final decision will be made in the coming days, after the ministry finishes reviewing the city budget.
“We have yet to decide whether we will scrap or decrease the allocation for party funds. Maybe next week [we will announce our decision],” said Sumarsono.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan and Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno have faced criticism over the 2018 city budget, the first budget they crafted after their inauguration, as many allocations stand in stark contrast to the previous city budget.
Allocations sparking public debate include lavish spending for members of the Jakarta Council.
In the draft budget, the administration earmarked Rp 346.5 billion for its legislative partner in 2018, almost twice the previous year’s allocation, as the working trip fund for councillors quadrupled to Rp 107.7 billion.
The higher allocation also includes Rp 620 million to revamp a fountain at the council building in Central Jakarta and Rp 346.7 million for procuring automatic air freshener dispensers.
Anies, who was only supported by a minority coalition of the Gerindra Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), was criticized for pandering to councillors in an approach that seems a far cry from his predecessor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who had been frugal with city funds for the Jakarta Council, a body notorious for inflating budgets.
Despite his hostility toward city councillors, however, Ahok set political party funding at Rp 410 per vote when it was only Rp 108 at the national level.
Under the Ahok administration, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which received most votes in the 2014 election, got Rp 505 million per year, while the party with the lowest number of votes, the National Mandate Party (PAN), received Rp 70.8 million.
In the 2018 city budget, the PDI-P is set to get around Rp 4.9 billion and PAN will get about Rp 691 million.
Jakarta National and Political Unity Agency secretary Ntis Sutisna admitted that the city administration and the city council had agreed on the increase of party funding to anticipate the upcoming revision of PP No. 5/2009, which was expected to regulate the issue.
“The Home Ministry has informed us previously that it is currently working on revising the regulation, and it says that Jakarta can provide party funds exceeding the Rp 1,000 per vote, because the city has a huge financial capability,” Ntis said. However, if the ministry decides to rejected the proposal, the allocated budget funds would become unused 2018 funds (silpa), Ntis added.