Man: That's for us isn't it?
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration has suffered yet another blow to its once clean image after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara a suspect in a graft case involving the distribution of Covid-19 social aid (Bansos).
According to the KPK, Batubara along with subordinates Matheus Joko Santoso and Adi Wahyono – who have also been named suspects – accepted some Rp 12 billion (US$582,020) in bribes from of suppliers during the first wave of the ministry's aid distribution earlier in the year.
Batubara – a politician from Widodo's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) – allegedly instructed Santoso and Wahyono to arrange deals entailing commission fees with suppliers including Ardian IM and Harry Sidabuke, as well as PT RPI – a private company allegedly owned by Santoso.
The KPK said that the case began with the distribution of Covid-19 social aid from the Social Affairs Ministry worth Rp 5.9 billion covering 272 contracts over two waves of distribution.
Santoso and Wahyono agreed on a Rp 10,000 fee for each aid package costing Rp 300,000 with Batubara's personal share from the first wave of the aid distribution amounting to Rp 8.2 billion. The second wave of distribution from October to December yielded around Rp 8.8 billion in bribes.
Batubara had previously brushed off mounting criticism over the delivery of aid, claiming data discrepancies in social assistance distribution were not the central government's responsibility.
He also claimed that in the current "very abnormal" conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic, the government couldn't afford the "luxury" of doing data verification and revalidation.