Stopping the Proposal of DPR Aspiration Fund for Transparency of Public Funds

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Political agenda is apparently similar to general elections. Sometimes the old agenda is being presented all over again by the supporters. This happens to the issue on the funding for constituency development program (aspiration fund), which was being discussed in 2010. At that time, the Golkar Party faction initiated the proposal, and now this internal agenda of the members of the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR) is back on the table. In the past, various comments, which were generally opposing this proposal, came from civil and academic society.

This aspiration fund has long been known as the pork barrel. It is called the pork barrel because it is a negative reflection of public funds allocated by the members of DPR for their constituents, to get re-elected. The difference between the proposal in 2010 and today is that earlier this proposal came from the Commission XI who felt they should be credited for the increase of the estimated tax revenue and then they ask for some payment to be restored to their constituencies. Today, DPR is using the mandate from Law No. 17 Year 2014 on the MPR, DPR, and DPD (MD3) Article 80 paragraph j which stated that every members of DPR shall promote the aspirations for development in their constituencies.

The plan for aspiration fund is to allocate IDR 20 billion per member which is budgeted in the draft of the 2016 State Budget. The total budget for this aspiration fund is reaching IDR 11.2 trillion to get the plan implemented. That is for every year during the five-year period of DPR, 2014 to 2019. The issue of aspiration fund arose to meet the urgent needs of people who are not accommodated the government programs, and also in order to fill in the blanks on the budget (back lock) for areas that are not included in government programs through the State Budget.

Is it true that the benefits of the proposed aspiration fund program outweigh the damages? A former Minister from the previous cabinet even mentioned 25 reasons why aspiration fund should be supported.

The problem is that regardless of many reasons made by the honorable members of DPR, the public has no trust in our parliamentary institutions. According to the Corruption Eradication Commission, DPR has been in 5 years in a row declared as the most corrupt institution by bureaucratic corruption index.

How should we believe that such “noble” proposal of aspiration fund came from an agency with questionable credibility? In the development of this proposal, out of 10 DPR factions only Nasdem Party has firmly rejected the aspiration fund. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has not taken its side and would like to hear the explanations from the government on this proposal. Other factions seem to accept.

However we have not heard is the stance from the government. For example, the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime states that the aspiration fund should stay in accordance with the Government Work Plan (Rencana Kerja Pemerintah, RKP), which had been planned in advance.

Many members of DPR personally expressed that aspiration fund is prone to irregularities and overlapping budget with other programs from the government. However, there are many who agree with the prerequisites: not managed by members of DPR and transparent in reporting.

The editorial of SuaraKebebasan believes that the main problem of aspiration fund lays on its transparency. Aspiration fund clearly disrupt the financial budget planning and its balance.

So far, the system of planning and budgeting is conducted with the level of Government approach ranging from the District or City, Provincial, and Central. We are familiar with the National Development Planning Meeting (Musyawarah Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional, Musrenbangnas), also the Regional Development Planning Meeting (Musyawarah Perencanaan Pembangunan Daerah, Musrenbangda) and so on as a mechanism to filter aspirations per level of Government.

Meanwhile the aspiration fund is using electoral districts approach that is not identical to the system of government. Instead of funding the aspirations to minimize poverty between regions, the distribution of funds is based on constituency aspirations will only widen the gap between rich and poor regions.

It is because the budget is concentrated in areas with large population. This is in accordance with the proportionality in determining constituencies, compared to poorer regions.

We as the public certainly do not want the tax to be collected and used for things that bring more harm such as this pork barrel. It is based on the pork barrel experience in various countries (USA and the Philippines). Public funds need to be saved and it should be directed to things that are more urgently needed such as health funds for the poor and grant scholarships to poor students.

To that end, the editorial of Suarakebebasan would like to decline the new proposal of aspiration fund that is under consideration and request for the Government to act on this immediately and not to drag on this issue.