Markus Junianto Sihaloho
A legislator has refuted claims by the House of Representatives that it never approved almost Rp 1.2 trillion ($128 million) in funding for the graft-riddled Hambalang sports centers, throwing the issue even deeper into confusion.
Taslim Chaniago, a legislator from the National Mandate Party (PAN), said on Sunday that the Sports Ministry would only have received the money if legislators on House Commission X, which oversees sports affairs, and the House Budget Committee had agreed to forward their approval for funding to the Finance Ministry.
“Several lawmakers, if not all, at Commission X and the Budget Committee must have known about the project and approved the funding,” said Taslim, who serves on House Commission III, which oversees legal affairs.
“Otherwise the Finance Ministry would never have disbursed the money.”
His remarks come in response to claims by members of Commission X that they never approved the funding, despite reports that they had approved Rp 1.175 trillion. Of that amount, Rp 688 billion has already been disbursed.
Commission X members Zulfadli, from the Golkar Party, and Dedi Gumelar, from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), both denied ever approving funding of that magnitude.
Zulfadli said the agreed amount was only Rp 645 billion, while Dedi said it was Rp 275 billion.
The Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra) previously said it was normal practice at the House for the go-ahead to allocate funds for projects to be given by a handful of legislators at the commission involved and the House Budget Committee.
Fitra investigation coordinator Uchok Sky Khadafi said that many requests by ministries for the disbursement of funds were decided only by the leaders of the oversight commissions and the Budget Committee.
Clouding the issue even more is a new revelation that has emerged that Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng, who has been questioned as a witness in the probe into bid-rigging claims in the project, was actually seeking Rp 2.575 trillion directly from the Finance Ministry.
Under the multi-year funding scheme, the money would be paid out in annual installments until the project was completed, and would bypass the House approval process, Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo revealed last week.
However, legislators have played down the idea that the Hambalang project was approved for multi-year funding, arguing that all uses of state money must be agreed to by the House. “I don’t know why they came up with the multi-year scheme,” said Rully Chairul Azhar, the Commission X deputy chairman from Golkar.
He admitted he did not know whether the Rp 688 billion disbursed for the project to date was based on a multi-year scheme or on House approval for the project .
Another legislator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the multi-year scheme allowed the whole amount of funding for each fiscal year to be released at once, rather than piecemeal as with House-approved funding.
This funding scheme was approved back in December 2010 because it would allow corrupt legislators and officials to take a bigger cut of rigged tenders from the winning contractors, he claimed.
“The multi-year scheme allows the fee to be disbursed right away,” he said.
Graft convict Muhammad Nazaruddin, the former Democratic Party treasurer, has repeatedly claimed that politicians and government officials took bribes in exchange for approving the funding for the sports center in Sentul, Bogor.
He alleged that Anas Urbaningum, the Democrat chairman, helped rigged the bid for the contract in the favor of the winning contractor, Adhi Karya, in exchange for the company kicking back Rp 100 billion for his bid to win the Democratic Party chairmanship in 2010.
Nazaruddin also accused Andi of taking Rp 20 billion from Adhi Karya. Both Anas and Andi have denied the accusations.
The controversial project was suspended after two unfinished buildings collapsed recently because of the area’s tectonic instability. Last week, the House set up a working committee to look into the case.
Additional reporting from Antara