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Ministers deny allegations of government aid linked to Prabowo's presidential bid

Jakarta Globe - April 5, 2024

Medikantyo Adhikresna & Yustinus Paat, Jakarta – Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati vehemently rejected allegations that the government's distribution of social aid was covertly used as a campaign tool for fellow cabinet member Prabowo Subianto's presidential bid.

Sri Mulyani was one of four ministers summoned before the court on Friday to address accusations that the government was providing assistance to benefit Prabowo, whose running mate is the eldest son of President Joko Widodo.

Defeated presidential candidates Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo alleged that social aid distribution was intensified before the Feb. 14 election to sway voters in favor of Prabowo, the current defense minister who was perceived to have the full support of the president.

During the hearing, where only the justices were allowed to pose questions, Sri Mulyani revealed that nearly Rp 38 trillion ($2.4 billion) was allocated for social aid in February, compared to Rp 34.3 trillion in the same month of the previous year.

She said the social aid program was included in the state budget approved by the government and the House of Representatives on Oct. 16, 2023, before the announcement of presidential candidates by the General Election Commission.

"The formulation of the 2024 state budget and its enactment into law were not influenced by considerations of presidential and vice-presidential candidates," Sri Mulyani asserted.

Chief Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto faced questioning by Justice Arief Hidayat regarding his role as the chairman of the Golkar Party – which was part of the coalition supporting Prabowo's presidential bid.

Golkar enjoyed a significant increase in the votes, securing the second position behind the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in the legislative election held concurrently with the presidential poll.

But Airlangga maintained that he was presented in the courtroom in his capacity as a cabinet member, not a political party leader.

"I cannot address questions related to the Golkar Party, but I can explain one thing: the social aid distributed by the government wasn't wrapped in yellow packages," Airlangga said, referring to the party's distinctive color.

He further explained that the social aid program aimed to alleviate the economic impact of prolonged drought and food inflation on low-income families, covering 22 million people or 7.9 percent of the population.

The panel also questioned Social Affairs Minister Tri Rismaharini and Coordinating Minister for Human Development Muhadjir Effendy.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/ministers-deny-allegations-of-government-aid-linked-to-prabowos-presidential-bi