Grab it while you can

Source – December 7, 2021

From an oped article titled Aji Mumpung: Allowances, official vehicles, electoral funds, grab it while you can!

Aji Mumpung – To take advantage of an opportunity to reap personal gain.

According to the author, Ari Junaedi, in order to know the character of a politician you have to observe what they do when they are in power. Do they use their power for the benefit of society or just to fulfill their personal desires.

In the article he cites a district attorney in Manado, North Sulawesi, who found that the allowances paid for housing and transport to Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) members for the period 2014-2019 was as much as 5 billion rupiah each.

While in Manado the looting of public money was in the form of allowances for housing and transport, in the Yogyakarta regency of Bantul, it was for official cars.

Late last year, three deputy speakers from the Bantul DPRD received new official cars each costing as much as 500 million rupiah.

Despite an urgent need to redirect the budget to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bantul DPRD secretary justified the new cars on the grounds that it had already been submitted under the 2020 budget allocations and because the "old" cars had to be frequently serviced.

In the Balinese regency of Karangasem meanwhile, DPRD members intentionally prolonged the deliberations on the regional budget for 2022 in order to force the executive to increase their housing allowances.

While lawmakers in Manado, Bantul and Karangasem were busy with allowances for transportation and housing, Jakarta was different again.

The Jakarta DPRD proposed an increase in funds for their electoral districts under the 2022 budget. These are funds used by members to conduct working visits to meet with constituents and hear their problems.

The issue arose because the councilor insisted that the working visits – which are normally only conducted during recess periods – were not enough.

The allocation for working visits for 2022 was subsequently increased to a massive 49 billion rupiah allowing councilors to visit there electoral districts every month.