Jokowi shocked, budget allocations for meetings more than core activities

Tempo – December 9, 2017
Widodo hands DIPA over to Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan - December 6, 2017 (Tempo)
Widodo hands DIPA over to Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan - December 6, 2017 (Tempo)

Antara, Jakarta – Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo says that the drafting of budgets at both the ministries, state institutions and regional bodies focus more on supporting activities rather than core activities.

“We who are present here know 100 percent that what is happening is that the drafting of RKA KL (State Ministry/Institution Budget Activities Plan) or agencies [budget plans] instead focus on supporting activities not core activates”, said Widodo when speaking at the handover of the Approved Budget Allocation Lists (DIPA) and the Regional and Village Fund Transfer Allocation Registers for the year 2018 at the Bogor Palace on Wednesday December 6.

Widodo requested that ministry/institutional chiefs and regional heads implement efficiency and not inflate operational budgets, including spending on civil servants, official travel, honorariums and office activities and meetings.

The president gave as an example the drafting of a budget at the Labour Ministry (Kemenaker) related to the repatriation of migrant workers (TKI) which reached 3 billion rupiah, yet the cost of the actual repatriations was only 500 million rupiah, with the remainder being used for office meetings, meetings outside the office, coordinating meetings, regional travel expenses and so forth.

“It cannot go on like this. This is the model in almost all the ministries and state institutions, in the regions, it’s the same. Just check them one by one. This has all been changed at the Kemenaker, and just see the results”, said Widodo.

The President said that budgetary funds allocated for core activities are only around 20 percent while the remainder are just used for supporting activates.

“This kind of model must stop. Later I will go through them one by one, I won’t point them out specifically right now. How can you expect results when all the planning is like this, [when] spending on support [activities] is actually dominant instead of spending on core activities”, said Widodo.

Widodo said however that he has already held a discussion with the Minister of Labour in relation to the matter and improvements have been made.

The President also said that state spending in 2018 will reach Rp 2,220.7 trillion rupiah, a huge figure.

“Because of this we must jointly monitor it both in terms of planning, in terms of budgeting as well as later in terms of implementation”, said Widodo.

The President revealed that the DIPA which has already been disbursed to the ministries and state institutions, which amounts to 847.4 trillion rupiah, and regional and village fund transfers which are as high as 766.2 trillion, must be allocated through quality budgeting and not repeat the earlier mistakes.

“Once again this is a huge figure. Because of this improve the quality, which is one of the things, by of course studying past problem so we don’t repeat the mistakes which have been made. It will be absolutely terrible if we already know it’s wrong, that there are errors, but then we still repeat the same mistakes”, he asserted.

The president also asked all of the ministries, state institutions and regional governments to continue simplifying state budget implementation so that they are orientated towards results, not procedure.

The president admitted that during the anniversary of National Teachers Day in the Jakarta satellite city of Bekasi, West Java, he was criticised by the teachers for the complex administration and procedures for allowances, promotions and certification.

“They said, Pak [Widodo] we’re not concentrating on teaching but instead wasting our energy on dealing with administration, the procedures that I have conveyed”, he said.

The President said that this is not just happening to teachers but in other areas that are still caught up in problems like this.

“It wastes time, wastes energy, wastes ideas, just dealing with complicated administration. We cannot just cut off what is being conveyed today. Because of this everyone, from the central government to the regions, must immediately simplify things”, he asserted.

Widodo also requested that the planning and budgeting be focused. “Once again, don’t just spend all the money on lots of activities so that there are no tangible results, when even a sense of it isn’t tangible, let alone the physical [results]. This is how it is if we have too many [support] activities”, he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Jokowi Heran, Anggaran Rapat Lebih Besar dari Kegiatan Inti.]