Saturday, 8 March 2008

Prevention 'crucial' to combat corruption

Sunday, March 9, 2008 12:01 AM Jakarta Post

Prevention 'crucial' to combat corruption

Erwida Maulia , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta Thu, 03/06/2008 12:03 PM National

Prevention is the key to combating Indonesia's widespread corruption, as eradication efforts rely too heavily on repressive measures, law experts say.

Romli Atmasasmita, professor of law at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, told a seminar that despite more than 50 years of using repressive measures to fight corruption, law enforcers have succeeded in uncovering graft in lower state institutions only, proving those measures ineffective.

He said four revisions to the national corruption law and its "most complete definition of corruption compared with any other country in the world" had resulted in almost nothing.

"There's no use in persisting in repressive actions when corruption in upper levels remains unaffected," he said at Wednesday's "Finding Solutions against Corruption through Preventive Measures to Support Sustainable National Development" seminar, organized by the State Ministry for Administrative Reforms.

Romli said Indonesia was required to include preventive measures in its corruption eradication system under the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which it ratified.

He recommended there be a specific law setting out the preventive measures and a special agency to execute them, adding law enforcement efforts should target not only public but also private institutions.

Deputy chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), Moch. Jasin, said preventive measures against corruption have been in place in Indonesia since 1999, when the government established the Public Servants Wealth Audit Commission (KPKPN), which was replaced by the KPK.

The preventive measures, however, were poorly implemented because of inadequate human resources and financial management support, Jasin said.

"Repressive and preventive measures must complement each other. So when prevention doesn't work, repressive measures are there to teach the perpetrators a lesson," he said.

Another seminar speaker, Subrata, president director of state publisher Perum Percetakan Negara, said preventive measures against corruption included wealth reporting, determining and reporting the status of grants, and including corruption in school curricula.

Bambang Widjojanto from the Partnership for Governance Reform said preventive measures were crucial in the fight against corruption because repressive activities were expensive and it was difficult to recoup corruption money.

Citing data from the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) and the Finance Ministry, Bambang said there were many potential graft cases in the country, with 6,113 "hidden" bank accounts holding about Rp 5 trillion (US$550 million).

In the first half of 2006, the BPK reported finding 17,142 possible instances of misappropriation in various currencies, worth Rp 101.76 trillion, $43.36 million, 2.36 million euros ($3.59 million) and 7 million yen ($67,879).

However, only 6,197 of these -- worth Rp 18.63 trillion, $6.85 million, 1.46 million euros and 7 million yen -- were followed up.