Thursday, September 22, 2011

RI may miss MDGs targets due to corruption, budget problems

RI may miss MDGs targets due to corruption, budget problems
Elly Burhaini Faizal. The Jakarta Post, Jakarta - 20/09/2011

Indonesia will likely fail to achieve the standards defined by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 due to corruption, poor management and budget problems at the regional level, according to activists.

Wahyu Susilo, coordinator of the Civil Society Network for MDG Achievement, said here on Monday that the problems would hinder the nation’s efforts to advance human development, as they affected sectors important for poverty reduction, such as health and education.

“An increasing number of budget corruption cases in sectors related to poverty eradication — as shown by the central government’s and regional administrations’ budgeting processes — show the real picture of the country’s poor commitment to meeting its MDGs targets,” he said in a MDG progress report.

Many regional administrations have made slow progress in human development, allocating their budgets mainly for direct expenditures, mostly for infrastructure, as indicated in reports compiled by the network for eight areas: Central Java, East Nusa Tenggara, South Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, West Kalimantan, West Nusa Tenggara, West Sulawesi and West Sumatra.

The government has said that Indonesia needed to focus on only two issues: reducing the maternal mortality rate and on environmental issues.

However, according to a recent study published by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Indonesia might achieve only three of 10 MDG targets: improved free and compulsory basic education; an increased number of qualified health workers, especially for childbirths; and a reduction in the number people living on US$1.25 or less per day.

Wahyu said the country had a poor track record in other areas, such as poverty alleviation, secondary education, reducing the infant and maternal mortality rates, as well as tackling malaria, which afflicts 1,645 of every 100,000 Indonesians.

Few improvements have been recorded on expanding people’s access to clean water and sanitation, Wahyu said.

“If we have no specific strategies to tackle this problem, we may miss our MDGs targets,” he added.

During the discussion, activists expressed concern about the poor awareness of the need for good governance while working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

In Kubu Raya regency, West Kalimantan, for example, the local administration allocated a large part of its budget for direct spending on infrastructure, instead of using it to provide residents increased access to education and healthcare.

“Few resources have been properly allocated to fight illiteracy among residents,” Gustiar, an activist from JARI West Borneo, said.

Gustiar said that 23,803 of Kubu Raya regency’s 517,120 residents, were illiterate. Most were women.

“It’s alarming,” he said.

However, the regency’s health agency has not allocated sufficient funds to recruit more professional medical workers to improve the quality of healthcare provided by community health centers (puskesmas).

Yanti Muchtar of Kapal Perempuan said budgeting in Indonesia was not woman-friendly, despite that most issues covered by the MDGs related to women, such as maternal and infant mortality, access to clean water and sanitation.

Indonesia has the world’s fifth largest population of illiterate people. About two-thirds of the nation’s illiterate are women. However, the government allocates less than 1 percent of its total budget to combat illiteracy.