Markus Junianto Sihaloho
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency plans to allocate Rp 15 billion ($1.56 million) from next year’s state budget for the procurement of elaborate tents described by advocates as portable posts, despite accusations that the funding is excessive.
Syamsul Maarif, chairman of the agency known as the BNPB, said his office made the request in the draft budget because it still had funds left over from last year.
“So it’s a proposal for budget reallocation. There’s an intention to set up portable posts. [We] have two options, one in the form of containers and another in the form of tents. [We’ve received] many offers,” Syamsul said ahead of a meeting with the House of Representatives’ Commission VIII on Thursday.
Previously it was reported that legislators were questioning the government’s plan to allocate the Rp 15 billion for the special tents.
House Commission I deputy chairman Tubagus Hasanuddin said the budget allocation was “illogical,” arguing that Rp 15 billion was enough to buy a luxury home in an upscale Jakarta neighborhood.
Commission VIII deputy chairman Jazuli Juwaini said the price of the tents was determined by the market and based on the mechanism regulated by the law.
The government announced the plan to purchase the tents amid a campaign for tighter spending controls in the state budget and a plan to increase the basic electricity price by 15 percent.
But the BNPB’s Syamsul said that Rp 15 billion was not excessive, adding the funds would be used to buy around 20 tents.
He also rejected the use of the word “tent,” saying that it was more accurate to describe them as “portable posts” because they would consist not only of tents but also other equipment.
“But if [they] want only 10 tents, we’ll just buy 10 containers. One thing for sure, they are urgently needed,” Syamsul said.
He added that the tents would be used to help refugees fleeing disasters and by disaster mitigation officers to treat and prevent illnesses.
He acknowledged that the tents would also be used by government officials, including potentially the president, when visiting disaster-hit areas.
“When government officials or the president visit, we will provide them with a decent place. So this is not just for the president. They will actually serve as control posts so that BNPB can work from there,” Syamsul said.
He acknowledged that the tents themselves would cost only Rp 12 billion, with the additional Rp 3 billion being value-added tax.