In-Depth Analysis: The Irony of the Village Funds

The raid conducted by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) against a number of officials in Pamekasan Regency on 2 August 2017 added to a long list of corruption cases involving the village funds.

The Commission has named no less than five suspects in the case, namely the Chief State Prosecutor of Pamekasan Rudy Indra Prasetya, Chief Inspector of Pamekasan Sutjipto Utomo, Regent of Pamekasan Achmad Syafii, Village Head of Dasok Agus Mulyadi and Head of Administration Inspectorate of Pamekasan Noer Solehudin.

The arrest was the result of alleged bribery conducted by the Government of Pamekasan Regency to stop the investigation of the corruption case of Dasok village fund being handled by Pamekasan State Attorney. Suspects Sutjipto, Agus Mulyadi, Achmad Syafii and Noer Solehhoddin are allegedly the bribe givers, while Rudi Indra Prasetya is allegedly the recipient.

The corruption case of Dasok village funds stems from a public report on the alleged misappropriation of an Rp 100 million infrastructure project budget to the Pamekasan State Prosecutor’s Office (Kajari). This report was then followed up by collecting materials and information. It turned out that in the process, communication occurred between the Kajari and the Regency, reaching an agreement that the case will be suspended if the government submits a commitment fee of Rp 250 million to Kajari Pamekasan.

The case in Pamekasan Regency is only the tip of the iceberg in the management of village funds. The monitoring results of Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) during 2015-2017 show that there are at least 110 cases related to village funds. The amount of state losses also increased, in 2016 reaching Rp 10.4 billion, rising to Rp 19.6 billion in 2017. From the side of the perpetrator, during 2015-2017, as many as 107 village heads have been determined as suspects. In fact, if referring to KPK data, up to now there have been 362 reports received by the KPK related to village funds.

The number of corruption cases related to the village budget runs counter to the spirit of Law No. 6 of 2014 on the Village. At the beginning of the formulation, the Village Law placed the village as the spearhead of development. Before the passing of the Village Law, the villages often complained about poor facilities and public services in their areas, but on the other hand they were powerless to make changes because they did not have their own budget and were very dependent on the regional budget (APBD). With the passing of the Village Law, villages have the autonomy to manage their own budgets.

Unfortunately, the huge village funds - in 2017 reaching Rp 60 trillion and planned to double in 2018 - is still problematic in its management, and some of it is embezzled.

At least there are several things that can be done to prevent the increasing embezzlement of village funds. The Village Consultative Body (BPD), whose members are the representatives of the village communities, must play an active role in monitoring and encouraging the public to participate in supervising the management of village funds. Then, the Village Fund Task Force that has been established by the Ministry of Villages also needs to carry out supervision and reinforcement to the village counselors as well as the village heads.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Home Affairs must ensure that every village head and their officials have the ability to plan and manage the village budget. Meanwhile, the law enforcement must be of high integrity without any bias in the processing of violations of the village funds. (Tari/Agus)