House Halves Renovation Costs by Axing Pricey Imports

By webadmin on 05:35 pm Jun 13, 2012
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Ezra Sihite

Renovations on the House of Representatives Budget Committee’s meeting room have been completed, with costs for the once astronomically expensive plan reduced by half, a lawmaker said in Jakarta on Monday.

The House of Representatives has been under intense public scrutiny regarding the renovation plans after spending figures came out in January, revealing lawmakers’ intentions to spend nearly Rp 19.9 billion ($2.1 million) on luxuries such as imported chairs and crystal lamps.

Four chairs for the committee’s leaders were to cost the state more than Rp 100 million. Total costs for all 139 of the chairs, to be imported from overseas, would have amounted to billions of rupiah.

The room was also to be filled with billions of rupiah worth of crystal lamps.

“We have reduced the renovation costs to only Rp 11.4 billion,” House secretary general Nining Indra Saleh said on Monday.

At the height of the derogatory media headlines surrounding the release of the plans, M. Prakosa, chairman of the House Ethics Council, said the council had discovered several violations in the renovation and asked the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to look into it.

The Ethics Council placed the blame on Nining, saying she had made unsubstantiated accusations about the Budget Committee as a whole.

Nining had earlier said that the high costs were due to strict specifications drawn up by the Budget Committee.

On Monday, though, Nining said there were no more problems with the renovation because the secretariat had followed the Ethics Council’s suggestions.

“There are no more imported materials,” she said. “Everything is made locally. That is how we were able to reduce the cost to 11.4 billion.”

According to Nining, everything spent on the room would be audited by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK). “We have sent a letter to the BPK,” she said.