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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