A Baduy woman walks past a Covid-19 mitigation poster near Rangkasbitung, Banten, on April 28. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Regional Gov'ts Should Be Wary of Loopholes in Covid-19 Mitigation Budget: BPK

BY :TARA MARCHELIN

MAY 29, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesia's Supreme Audit Agency, or BPK, plans to audit how regional governments have been reallocating their budget for Covid-19 mitigation starting next month.

"The audit will take place from July to December. We'll focus on auditing their health expenditure, social aid expenditure and unexpected expenditure," BPK deputy chairman Bahrullah Akbar said on Friday. 

Bahrullah said the agency will be embedded with the regional governments to do physical and electronic audit.

So far, the regional government budget has been cut by 6.83 percent for Covid-19 mitigation, from Rp 1,298 trillion ($89 billion) to Rp 982 trillion.

"In the next three years, regional governments have to look for loopholes for fraud. Things might get ugly if they don't,” he said in a teleconference with the House of Representatives' Covid-19 monitoring team.

BPK Chairman Agung Sampurna said budget management and monitoring have become more challenging during the pandemic. Still, regional governments still need to be transparent, accountable and obey the law.

"They have to make sure social aid reaches its target and all expenses for Covid-19 mitigation are managed efficiently and accountable," Agung said.

Some regional governments still have not submitted their 2019 financial reports to the BPK.

"A total of 29 regional governments haven't submitted the reports. They can't use the pandemic as an excuse since they're last year's reports. We've reported the matter to the Home Affairs Ministry," he said.

Pandemic Aid Stuck in Banks

BPK has also asked the House of Representatives to help monitor the Covid-19 mitigation budget, especially social aid distribution, since some of the funding seems to have been stuck in state-owned banks. 

Based on an audit by the agency on the Integrated Social Welfare Data (DTKS), a total of Rp 1.8 trillion in social aid funding has accumulated in the banks.

The money was meant to be distributed as cash transfer (PKH) and non-cash food aid (BPNT).

"A total of Rp 300 billion have been returned to the Treasury. Another Rp 1.5 trillion still has not been returned," BPK member Achsanul Qosasih said.

The social aid funds had accumulated in the banks because it wasn't clear how they should be distributed, according to Achsanul.  

The Social Affairs Ministry had wanted to distribute the aid immediately by handing over all the funding to the banks. Meanwhile, the banks wanted to keep the fund longer in their accounts.

"The existence of these accounts should have been made known to the Social Affairs Ministry, but what happened was that the ministry had to file a request to the banks to do it since legally they're not obliged to report them," he said.

Achsanul said the government should have more accurate data on people who have received the social aid and those who have not. 

"The ministry should revise their agreement with the banks. We've also asked them to create a data system that's integrated with the banks' systems," Achsanul said.

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