Parliament questions budget submission for Aceh military operation

Kompas – June 29, 2005
Indonesian soldiers on patrol in Aceh (Liputan 6)
Indonesian soldiers on patrol in Aceh (Liputan 6)

Sutta Dharmasaputra/Wisnu Dewabrata, Jakarta – The operation to restore security in Aceh continues. In order to support the operation, the Ministry of Defense has submitted a request for a budget of 530.27 billion rupiah.

The budget submission was contained in a Defense Ministry document classified as confidential and dated June 22. The document which was submitted to the Finance Minister was signed by Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono. A copy of the document was received by the chairperson of the People’s Representative Assembly Commission I on June 24.

However a member of the Commission I Budgetary Panel, Djoko Susilo, is questioning the budgetary submission because the budget proposal is not intended to come from the state budget since Aceh has returned to a normal state. The state of civil emergency in Aceh ended on May 18 and since then Aceh has returned to state of civil authority. As of Tuesday evening June 28, the Budgetary Panel was still discussing the submission.

In the document, the Defense Minister said he hoped that the funds can be released no later than the end of June. The Budgetary Panel however is having difficulties integrating the budgetary submission because Aceh’s status has returned to a state of civil authority.

Law Number 34/2004 on the TNI (armed forces) mandates that under a normal conditions the TNI’s budget is paid for from the state budget which is submitted by the Defense Department. “They should have submitted this budget in the 2005 revisions to the state budget. [It is] no longer a special budget such as this. We will therefore study its legal basis”, asserted Susilo.

Under Law Number 34/2004 it states that in the case of meeting the TNI’s budgetary needs, the chief of the TNI makes a request to the Defense Minister for it to be paid for in its entirety from the state budget. In the case of meeting the budgetary requirements for military operations of an urgent nature, the chief of the TNI makes a budgetary request to the Defense Minister for it to be paid for from the contingency budget which is drawn from the state budget.

Meanwhile, a statement by army chief of staff General Djoko Santoso that they will classify regions of Aceh into categories of black, gray and white, is believed to be no more than and effort by the TNI to justify their continued presence in Aceh.

“This justification is related to efforts to maintain the TNI’s presence in Aceh even though it is under a state of civil authority at the moment”, said Otto Samsudin Ishak, a researcher from human rights monitoring group Imparsial.

Ishak also believes that the security classification has no clear relationship with determining to what extent one area is under responsibility of the police or the TNI and this may result in a conflict with the civilian administration.

[Translated by James Balowski.]