New Village Scheme Risks Quality

The Jakarta Post - Friday December 15, 2017

New Village Scheme Risks Quality

The government should be aware that its planned new meth­od for the disbursement of its vil­lage funds may undermine the quality of the projects as a result of inadequate local resources, a local think-tank has warned.

The government recently mod­ified the disbursement of village funds, dubbed “cash for work,” to generate more labor-intensive projects for village residents to increase their economic capacity.

The new scheme might achieve more certainty for local authori­ties in utilizing funds from the central government, and might even be able to provide around 5 to 6 million new jobs, according to the Regional Autonomy Watch (KPPOD).

However, possible risks might come with the new method of im­plementation as village residents will play more direct roles in the project development, but without certainty regarding their compe­tency, said KPPOD executive di­rector Robert Endi Jaweng.

He said the lack of competen­cy in infrastructure development might compromise the quality of the projects they would undertake.

“Local governments used to hire contractors who were not locals, but had adequate experience to build infrastructure effi­ciently,” he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. “If the central government wants to transfer these duties to locals, it should be ready to make room for errors.”

Aside from that, he said local officials were unlikely to be accus­tomed to employing so many peo­ple on various projects, creating a greater likelihood of maladminis­tration and miscalculation.

“And it will not-be fair, for in­stance, to prosecute them, be­cause there is a good chance they will have no idea what they did wrong,” he said!

Robert suggested that the gov­ernment understand the ques­tionable capacity of local administrations and provide them with more time to fully comprehend the new scheme before imple­menting it in the coming months.

The “cash for work” scheme, is­sued by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, will be under scrutiny by the Finance Ministry and other related government institutions before its launch early next year as scheduled.

Under the new program, at least 30 percent of funds chan­neled to villages and districts should be used to hire local work­ers who will work on various de­velopment projects to be man­aged by themselves in the future.

The state will set aside Rp 60 trillion (US$4.2 billion) in village funds from the 2018 state budget next year, unchanged from this year’s allocation.

Village and regional transfer funds, which amount to Rp 706.2 trillion, aim to evenly distribute economic growth among low-income regions, as envisioned in Jokowi’s Nawa Cita program of building the country from its outskirts.

Meanwhile, World Rank coun­try director for Indonesia Rodri­go A. Chaves has urged the gov­ernment to be more attentive to its decentralization program in general, especially in transferring the obligation of infrastructure development to local authorities.

“Indonesia spends 53 percent of its budget through decentraliza­tion,” he said on Thursday during the launch of the December edi­tion of the bank’s flagship Indone­sia Economic Quarterly, titled “De­centralization that Delivers.”

Therefore, with local officials having more and more power over the country’s development, it becomes more important for them to realize their roles in it, he said.

“The local governments are the face of Indonesia’s democra­cy and also the face of the state it­self,” he said.

The World Bank’s quarterly re­port notes that decentralization has led local government services to improve over the past 15 years.

Nevertheless, local politics may have hampered the outcome as the dynamics could undermine the selection of district or village leaders and legislative members based on developmental perfor­mance, the report said.

 

--- (Source The Jakarta Post – Friday December 15, 2017) ---


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