Indonesia lost as much as Rp 2.13 trillion ($238.6 million) to corruption in 2011, although authorities should have been able to easily detect the methods used for graft, a watchdog revealed on Sunday.
Danang Widoyoko, the coordinator of Indonesia Corruption Watch, said a study by his organization showed that embezzlement accounted for most of the money lost and that government investment was the sector most prone to graft.
Embezzlement cost the state Rp 1.23 trillion last year, almost three times more than the second most prevalent method, bogus projects and travel costs, which cost the state Rp 446.5 billion.
Misappropriations came third at Rp 181.1 billion, followed by markups at Rp 171.5 billion.
Danang said those were age-old methods that should have been easily preventable.
“Our corruption practices are actually still quite primitive and therefore easy for auditors to track,” he said.
Part of the problem, he said, was the presidential instruction issued last year on eradicating corruption, which he called weak for overstressing prevention at the expense of taking action.
“Programs on corruption prevention account for almost 90 percent of [antigraft funding], particularly in law enforcement institutions,” Danang said.
“There’s nothing wrong with preventing graft, but the presidential instruction should have given more weight to action that can be taken by the police and the Attorney General’s Office to investigate corruption cases.”
He said police and the AGO made the problem worse by using much of their graft prevention funds for internal reform instead of going after other graft cases.
“They focus their prevention efforts on shoring themselves up from the inside, so that it looks like they’ve achieved their antigraft programs,” he said.
If prevention must be stressed, he continued, it should be in the political arena. However, Danang said it was regrettable that neither
the government nor the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) had drawn up a blueprint for tackling graft at that level.
He said ICW’s projection for the coming years was that politically related graft cases would increase in prominence as the 2014 legislative and presidential polls approached.
He warned that the next two years could see politicians and parties meddle in the mining, forestry and plantations sectors as they sought to raise funding for their campaigns.
“The high cost of running will see all the parties in a race to get money throughout 2013, so 2012 will be the year to watch out for [possible graft] in state funding for the energy and mineral resources sectors,” Danang said.
He said this pattern played out in the period leading up to previous elections and would continue to occur as long as the KPK failed to draw up strict standards for transparency in political party funding.
He added that in addition to raiding the state budget, politicians would also constitute the biggest obstacle to the KPK in carrying out its job.
Separately, Bambang Soesatyo, a member of the House of Representatives, called on the KPK not to be pressured into cherry-picking which politicians it investigated.
“If a single KPK commissioner is boxed in by political interests, the commission will lose its independence and its effectiveness,” the Golkar Party lawmaker said.
Bambang was responding to speculation that KPK chairman Abraham Samad was pressured into not probing Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum, who has been implicated in corruption by graft suspect and former Democrat treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin.
Correction: This story has been edited to rectify an earlier
error. In the original article the figure Rp 2.13 trillion was incorrectly converted into $238.6 billion. The figure
should be $238.6 million. We apologize for the error.