Jakarta. The Jakarta Education Office has vowed to look into recent findings that up to Rp 5.7 billion [$638, 400] may have been embezzled from seven public schools.
The controversy first erupted in February, when a group of independent learning centers (TKBM) which provide classes for the poor, claimed not to have received any government aid between 2007 and 2009.
The money was to be channeled through the School Operational Aid (BOS) and Education Operational Aid (BOP) funds received by six junior highs.
The centers reported the case to Indonesia Corruption Watch, which was also investigating allegations that officials at a state elementary school had stolen funds from a block grant meant to help the school attain international standards.
Last week, ICW said it had received a report from the Jakarta Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) that proved the allegations.
The report said the possible misappropriations of the BOS and BOP totaled at least Rp 1.1 billion, while the block grant may have been embezzled to the tune of Rp 4.6 billion.
The losses came in the form of bogus salaries, unauthorized use of funds and markups in purchases, the report said.
On Tuesday, Governor Fauzi Bowo, whose administration had previously insisted there were no misappropriations, said it would welcome a full investigation.
“If there were mistakes or indications of misappropriation, then please prosecute the cases,” he said.
“We’ll welcome all efforts to clear this up. Nor will I cover anything up, especially now that the city administration upholds transparency and accountability in financial administration.
“However I don’t want to assume anything,” he added. “So we should wait for the relevant agencies to conduct an official investigation.”
Jakarta Education Office head Taufik Yudi Mulyanto said his office would carry out a probe based on the BPK’s findings.
“We want to confirm whether this was due to administrative flaws or indeed misappropriations by school officials flouting the established standard operating procedures,” he said.
He added his office had already sent a warning letter to the principals of the schools in question.
“We’ve also given them the opportunity to clarify, so that in the end we get the whole picture from the BPK and the schools.”
He added that his office had found indications of excessive payments made by the schools in procuring goods and services.
“The schools will have to refund the difference to the state,” he said.
“In the case of procurements paid for but not yet delivered, the school must immediately take delivery,” he added.
Febri Hendri, an ICW researcher, said his organization would report the case to the Attorney General’s Office on Thursday to ensure it was properly investigated.
“We’ll constantly monitor the case so that there is legal certainty,” he said.
“We’ll also report the BPK’s finding to the KPK [Corruption Eradication Commission] and the national BPK. We hope the latter goes on to audit these schools as well as the 1,000 others attaining international standards.”
Jumono, chairman of the Alliance of Concerned Parents for Education, said the alleged misappropriated funds could amount to higher than Rp 5.7 billion.
“There are hundreds of state schools in Jakarta, and these findings are based on only seven,” he said.
“We urge the government to get involved, especially the national BPK, to conduct comprehensive audits of all schools in Jakarta.”