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Trophy of Shame

Corruption uncovered by the BPKP in the Ministry of Finance--Rp2.09 trillion--is the highest among all institutions.

STILL tired and perhaps experiencing jet lag, the Attorney General's Office spokesman, Antasari Azhar, had to answer a lot of questions. "This is my first day in office after my return from my haj pilgrimage," he said. The Development Finance Comptroller's (BPKP) findings had just been disseminated earlier and only awaited the response of the AGO's information head.

The discovery of the extent of corruption in 26 state institutions in the third quarter of 2002 and released to the public by BPKP two weeks ago, was indeed like another "Bali bomb blast". It was reported that there were 734 cases of corruption, causing a loss of Rp3.1 trillion and US$205.4 million. This amount is higher than the amount budgeted for the general election and the direct elections for a president and vice president in 2004, which is Rp3.609 trillion.

The AGO maintained that it has started to handle several findings reported by BPKP. Up to now 747 cases have already been processed--the total is an accumulation of cases reported by BPKP for the period 1983-2002--but not all of them have been passed over to the court. There were 170 (22.76 percent), whose investigations were stopped, as it was considered that evidence was lacking and there were no elements of crime. Another 383 cases (51.27 percent) have been completed. The remaining 194 cases (25.97 percent) are still in process. "But, I don't remember the details of those cases. Because, these data cover the whole of Indonesia," said Antasari.

The government institution most shocked by the release of the findings was the Ministry of Finance. In BPKP's release the ministry under Boediono's leadership ranked first, as the amount of corruption was the highest. Of the total loss of Rp3.1 trillion to the state, his institute corrupted some Rp2.09 trillion.

The ministry, which has its office at the Lapangan (square) Banteng in Jakarta, didn't know beforehand that such a release would come out. According to Maurin Sitorus, the PR and legal affairs bureau head of the Ministry of Finance, Finance Minister Boediono only knew about it that same day--that is, after reporters had asked him about it. Minister Boediono immediately directed the inspectorate general of his ministry to obtain the detailed data.

What came as a shock to the Ministry of Finance was the total amount of funds involved. Because, Maurin continued, in the second quarter BPKP reported "only" five cases of corruption with a state loss of Rp59.24 billion. "What about that exceptionally big increase, reaching 3,300 percent?" he said, wondering aloud.

Up until last week, the Ministry of Finance had not seen a complete report on the case. Whereas the findings on the previous quarter had been clarified: BPKP's findings were indeed correct. The detailed breakdown showed manipulation in the state budget received at the Kupang pawnshop amounting to Rp174 million. Then, there was manipulation in the payment of fees for incoming goods and import duties. The total amount was fantastic: Rp39.925 billion--the biggest corruption in this sector in the second quarter.

Ranked second was corruption in land and building taxes (PBB) and PBB bureau services not submitted to the state but siphoned off. That caused a loss of Rp19.824 billion to the state. Other cases were corruption in the form of collecting goods and cashing in bad checks from the Sentul Pawnshop in Yogyakarta (Rp367 million) and price fixing by auction officials. However, the Ministry of Finance claims not to know the follow up of the case, because everything has been submitted to the AGO.

Antasari added that not all the cases that have been stopped have been shelved. Some were sent back to BPKP as they were purely administration cases. Then there were those with strong criminal character which were submitted to the police. BPKP has a cooperation deal with the National Police (Polri), which was formally signed by BPKP Head Arie Soelendro and National Police chief General Da'i Bachtiar on April 27, 2002.

Apart from the Ministry of Finance, there are two other ministries, that have swallowed public funds. They are the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, with a loss of Rp104.7 billion and Rp52.2 billion, respectively. The government, through the AGO, must stop this competition for such a shameful trophy.

Abdul Manan, Wahyu Dhyatmika (TEMPO News Room)

TEMPO, MARCH 03, 2003-025/P. 30 Heading National

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