‘Pork barrel’ scheme likely to favor rich constituencies | The Jakarta Post
The Golkar Party’s “pork barrel” spending proposal will likely prove far less beneficial to underdeveloped regions that produce few legislators, data shows.
Golkar has proposed that every legislator in the country be allocated Rp 15 billion from the 2011 state budget under the banner of “aspiration funds”, to develop their constituencies.
The proposal would allow legislators to disburse Rp 8.4 trillion (US$915.6 million) in state funds to develop their constituencies.
Golkar chairman and business tycoon Aburizal Bakrie, who also heads the ruling coalition’s joint secretariat, said the money would be used to develop disadvantaged regions.
However, more legislators are elected in developed regions, especially Java and Sumatra, than in undeveloped regions, according to data on the official website of the House of Representatives.
Less than 10 percent of the total 560 lawmakers at the House were elected by less developed regions, such as Papua and Maluku.
The data showed that 10 legislators were elected by the Papua constituency, three by West Papua, four by Maluku, three by North Maluku and 13 by East Nusa Tenggara.
In comparison, 91 were elected by the West Java constituency, 78 by Central Java, 87 by East Java and 21 by Jakarta.
Ibrahim Fahmy Badoh of the Indonesia Corruption Watch said there was a risk the money could be used to fund political campaigns. “It could be used to smooth business cronyism,” he said.
The term pork barrel spending, which derives from the US slavery era, suggests an intention to remunerate constituents of a politician in return for political backing.
Pork barrel spending is commonly practised in the United States by members of congress. Usually, the money is used to finance infrastructure projects, such as bridges, roads, schools or hospitals.
Golkar politician Harry Azhar Aziz, chairman of the House’s budget committee that exercises the state budget with the government, said some regions in Indonesia had introduced pork barrel spending.
The East Java administration provides Rp 1 billion to each member of the Provincial Legislative
Council (DPRD), and the Riau island administration provides Rp 500 million to each DPRD member and Rp 5 billion to the DPRD head, Harry said.
Although Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa, who is also chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), called the spending “unnecessary”, Harry insisted the House had its “budget right”, adding that legislators would defend the proposal. “This is the aspiration fund of constituents,” he said.
He said the House’s budget committee had agreed with the Finance Ministry to discuss the legal basis for the proposal, the mechanism and procedure for the spending disbursement, implementation oversights and benefits for regional development and the public.
“The government will be the executor to disburse the money, but the House will have the right to determine the allocation,” Harry said.
The ICW’s Fahmy said the government and the House should ensure the transparency of the disbursements.