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Risma 'ready' to face House scrutiny over removal of duplicate aid recipient data

Jakarta Post - May 11, 2021

Dio Suhenda, Jakarta – Social Affairs Minister Tri "Risma" Rismaharini said she was ready to answer to the House of Representatives regarding the millions of duplicate data entries found in the ministry's integrated social welfare data (DTKS) registry.

In April, Risma made the decision to remove over 21 million duplicate personal data entries from the ministry's list of COVID-19 direct cash assistance recipients, causing a stir among legislators.

At least one lawmaker, Bukhori Yusuf of House Commission VIII overseeing social affairs, accused her of acting on her own and making a one-sided decision. Risma denied the allegation.

House Commission VIII, a counterpart of the Social Affairs Ministry, claims not to have received any report on the existence of duplicate recipient data, and has moved to set up a hearing with Risma to question her decision.

"My job is to explain [this decision] to the House. Ready or not, I have to go [face them]," the minister said on Monday, as quoted by tempo.co.

For her part, Risma said she had communicated the details with the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK), the Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP) and the National Police regarding the data.

She was quoted by kompas.com on April 21 as saying the ministry was "open to proposals from regional [administrations] for new entries", after unearthing some 21 million instances of recipient names being registered more than once.

She also filed a report on the data to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) so the ministry would be able to accommodate new entries.

Going forward, she said new data entries submitted by regional administrators would have to go through a review process to avoid making the same mistakes.

As of April 30, the ministry had received 5 million more data entries of proposed social assistance recipients, even as it faces difficulties in accessing data from several regions, including in Papua and East Nusa Tenggara, due to issues of access and connectivity.

The government's handling of social assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic has attracted widespread criticism. Risma's predecessor, Juliari Batubara, was arrested by graft busters late last year and is standing trial for alleged bribery in the distribution of social assistance.

Juliari and his subordinates, Matheus Joko Santoso and Adi Wahyono, are accused of accepting roughly Rp 12 billion (US$582,020) in bribes from a number of suppliers during the first wave of the ministry's aid distribution.

The KPK is also looking into the possibility of whether Juliari or other officials caused state losses – a corruption offense punishable by a maximum of 20 years or life in prison depending on the magnitude of the losses.

To prevent future shortcomings, Risma has encouraged the public to cross-check their citizenship identification number (NIK) against the DTKS, starting in May.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2021/05/11/risma-ready-to-face-house-scrutiny-over-removal-of-duplicate-aid-recipient-data.htm