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BPK details misuse of Papua social aid funding

Jakarta Globe - October 28, 2013

Banjir Ambarita, Jayapura – A report from the Supreme Audit Agency from July 6 shows that a presidential adviser and several Papuan legislators received hundreds of millions of rupiah last under the guise of social aid from the from the budget of one of the least developed provinces in the country.

It was revealed that recipients of the money included local councilors and presidential adviser Velix Vernando Wanggai, who received Rp 200 million ($18,000).

The Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) report said the money to Velix, paid by the Papua provincial administration, was meant for the printing expenses of 3,000 copies of a book titled "Development for All: Managing Regional Development."

Velix did not return calls for comment. Yan Mandenas, one of the councilors who also received the social aid, said he would comment on the issue today.

Robert Jitmau, an analyst on social matters, said the money should have been allocated for the underprivileged.

"It's called social aid, which means it should be used for social activities," he said. "The councilors and the presidential adviser should be fighting for the people's rights and not taking it from them. The money they took should have been for the people to fight for their interests," Robert added.

Although the recipients were able to account for the money, Robert said it was still unethical of them to have accepted. "We're talking about the ethics and morality of the councilors and the presidential adviser. This is not a matter of accountability," he said.

Robert alleged that the money handed out was a form of conspiracy between the government and the councilors. "This could be an indication of a game between the government and legislative in the use of the provincial budget," he said.

Among the councilors who received money from the 2012 social aid fund were Boy Markus Dawir, who used it to pay for his medical expenses in Singapore; Ruben Magai, who received Rp 200 million that he used to pay for the construction of his house; and Yunus Wonda, who received Rp 105 million, which he used to pay for his child to go to university in New Zealand, and another Rp 148 million for medical check-ups in Jakarta.

In June this year, the BPK revealed that nearly $1 billion in social aid funds was misused by two government ministries, prompting claims that the funds were being used to bankroll political campaigns ahead of next year's elections. Various factors were blamed, including the lack of clarity on the fund recipients.