Poor Aid Database and distribution
The central and regional governments have begun distributing social aid for those impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. But the disordered database of recipients has resulted in improper aid distribution. Losses may be suffered by the state.
WEST Java Governor Ridwan Kamil’s fiery enthusiasm ebbed when he learned that the meeting with Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Cultural Affairs Muhadjir Effendy scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, had been cancelled. The virtual meeting for all regional heads was meant to be a follow-up to the limited cabinet meeting, also attended by governors, one day prior. “(There’s) no further news. I really feel this is urgent,” said Emil—as Ridwan Kamil is known—during a conference call on April 30.
In the limited meeting on April 27, Emil recommended coordinating social aid for those impacted by the Coronavirus Disease 2019, or Covid-19, under one command, namely, under the coordinating ministry for human development and cultural affairs (Kemenko PMK). If one command is not possible, at least the aid can be distributed simultaneously.
Emil’s concern is only to be expected. Some of the aid has already been given to West Java residents, but the people protested because it has not been distributed at the same time. The accusation that the Covid-19 aid has not been given to the right people then began to spread, with the regional government cornered because many in need have not received assistance. In fact, said Emil, it is possible that they will receive aid from a different government office on another day. There is a total of nine types of social aid in West Java.
Post Office personnel submitting the data on the recipients of aid in the form of staples from the President to neighborhood association personnel, before they were distributed to locals impacted by Covid-19 in the Pasar Minggu area, South Jakarta, April 28./TEMPO/Nita Dian
Three other regional heads are in support of Emil’s idea. President Joko Widodo has asked Minister Muhadjir to follow up on the recommendation, which is why the regional heads were invited to the canceled virtual meeting. “(We) would like to coordinate with other ministries before coordinating with regional heads,” Muhadjir told Tempo on April 30, explaining why the meeting was canceled.
The seemingly slapdash distribution of social aid has occurred in all regions over the last few weeks. In the capital city, food relief from the Jakarta Provincial Government strayed to the Kelapa Gading high-income area and members of the provincial parliament. In West Java, where two-thirds of its residents fell into poverty because of the pandemic, residents became angered when assistance was given in a regency where a large-scale social restrictions policy was implemented. Social media also went into a riot over the circulating photo of hand sanitizer bottles from the social affairs ministry were affixed with stickers of Klaten Regent Sri Mulyani.
How the aid has been distributed proves the Corruption Eradication Commission’s (KPK) prediction. A team from KPK’s prevention division has been observing the central and regional governments’ plan to launch a social safety net program to mitigate the impacts of Covid-10.
The central government allocated an additional Rp110 trillion for the program targeted at poor families and families vulnerable to poverty. At the same time, regional governments also prepared at least Rp25.34 trillion for similar programs, obtained from the reallocated regional budget. More recently, village funds have been used as a new source of budget for the distribution of Rp22.4 trillion-direct cash aid.
The KPK has had its concerns about the various social relief programs because the database of recipients used by the central and regional governments is still a mess. “We’re worried that when the central government adds more social aid, regional governments are also giving (aid), and so are village administrations,” said KPK Prevention Deputy Pahala Nainggolan on April 27. “This will be controversial.”
A resident holds his Prosperous Family Card he received directly from the Social Affairs Minister in Ciputat, South Tangerang, Banten, April 21./ANTARA/Muhammad Iqbal
During this emergency situation, said Pahala, four chronic diseases in the social aid program have the potential to recur. These problems are: fictitious distribution, recipients who are associated with local rulers, aid being distributed to the wrong people due to errors in data entry, and the reduction of aid, both in terms of quantity and quality. All of these can potentially cause losses to the state.
The potential for danger has even come from the capital city. When the central government was still discussing figures, the capital city announced its plan to give aid to 3.7 million poor families and families vulnerable to poverty. Later on, the number was reduced to 1.25 million families.
The aid comes from the 2020 Jakarta regional budget. Several other regions have followed in the capital city’s footsteps. After seeing that some of the aid has been given to undeserving recipients, KPK’s prevention team asked for an emergency meeting with the Jakarta government and social affairs ministry on April 15. The virtual meeting was attended by around 30 people.
Chief of the Communication, Informatics and Statistics Office, Atika Nur Rahmania, as well as Regional Secretariat Assistant for Economic and Financial Affairs, Sri Haryati, joined the meeting to represent the Jakarta provincial government. Meanwhile, the social affairs ministry was represented by three echelon I officials and one member of the minister’s special staff. It was only during the virtual meeting that it became known that Jakarta was using new data collected from the lowest-level units, such as the neighborhood association (RT).
The data on poor residents, residents vulnerable to poverty and those impacted by Covid-19 was then combined with the database on recipients for provincial government’s six social safety net types already running. Based on the data, the province then began distributing the stage-one food aid on April 9.
The KPK asked Jakarta to synchronize information on the 1.25 million families, whose data they collected using the social affairs ministry’s integrated data of social welfare (DTKS)—the data bank on the country’s poorest residents. As of January, the database included 29 million families, or 97.3 million people.
By synchronizing the two databases, it was discovered that at least 200,000 families receiving Jakarta government’s assistance were already in the Family Hope Program, a social safety net program budgeted by the central government every year. As many as 100,000 other families were already registered under the DTKS. Meanwhile, the rest, the largest group of 900,000 families, are in the category of new poor residents. “These are suspected to be families who suddenly fell into poverty,” said Pahala.
Despite the overlap, the issue of data on Jakarta’s aid recipients was quickly overcome because every family has its citizenship registration number. “So the first disease of social aid, namely, fictitious recipients, has been overcome,” said Pahala.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan confirmed reports that the old database was used as a reference for aid recipients. He argues that the Jakarta government was racing against time so that those impacted by Covid-19 could quickly receive aid. “(It’s) better than the other way around, checking first in the field, gathering everything. People in need would not have received aid for a long time,” Anies said in a virtual press conference on April 22. He promised that administrative villages will immediately renew their recipients data through neighborhood and community units.
The trouble is, President Jokowi later on made the decision to give similar food aid to residents of the capital city. Dubbed “Sembako President” (roughly staple foods from the President) to recipients in the Jakarta-Bogor-Depok-Tangerang-Bekasi area, the aid’s value and number of recipients are exactly similar to the provincial government’s program. “This is like a race of who is first to give social aid,” said Pahala. KPK’s prevention team is worried that recipients for the government’s food relief have been receiving double assistance.
Seeing the slapdash plans to distribute social aid, the coordinating ministry for human development, which oversees social safety net programs, held a virtual inter-ministerial meeting on April 20. The meeting was meant to coordinate the use of DTKS and non-DTKS data in providing regular and non-regular aid. Regular aid covers the Family Hope Program and the Sembako (staples) Card Program—previously known as non-cash food aid (BPNT). Meanwhile non-regular assistance covers direct cash aid from the social affairs ministry, Sembako President, and village funds direct cash aid.
According to the Minister of Social Affairs Juliari Batubara, the meeting, which was also attended by KPK leaders, became the foundation for ministries running social assistance in channeling their programs. The meeting agreed that the database for aid recipients must come from the DTKS. However, local governments are allowed to add the list with the condition that they are equipped with names and identity numbers (NIK). “At first the KPK suggested the aid is only distributed to those in the DTKS list,” Juliari said on March 1. “But it would be a pity for those outside the DTKS”.
The meeting then concluded that the DTKS would be used as the preliminary basis for distributing assistance. According to Pahala, the minister for human development asked for the meeting’s conclusion to be formalized through a KPK circular. One day later, the KPK fulfilled the request by issuing Circular No. 11/2020 on the use of DTKS and non-DTKS data in giving social aid. “Essentially, regional governments can go ahead and collect their own data, but the preliminary data must come from the DTKS,” said Pahala. “This is better than using blind data.”
But the consensus that the DTKS would be used as preliminary data on aid recipients did not automatically put an end to the chaos. The data, containing 40 percent of Indonesia’s poorest citizens, was compiled in 2015 as an updated integrated database from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) and the national team for the acceleration of poverty mitigation under the Vice President’s office.
The data should have been renewed at least once a year by regency and city governments, then submitted by governors to be legitimized by the social affairs ministry. But like the pandemic, the laziness disease spread to numerous regions and the data was not always updated. Recently, for example, in the Tegallega administrative village, Bogor City, West Java, it became known that deceased residents were still included on the list of Covid-19 aid recipients. Apparently, the data used was last updated in 2017. “But we already fixed it and immediately gave (the updated data) to the social affairs office,” said Tegallega Administrative Village Chief Ervin Yulianto when contacted on April 28.
Obsolete DTKS was also recorded by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK). According to BPK member, Achsanul Qosasi, as much as Rp2 trillion from the Hope Family Program is not spent every year. Budget is unspent when a recipient family has moved, died, or become a migrant worker. Many overlaps in the data were also found.
BPK’s finding shows that the bureaucracy surrounding updating the data is DTKS’s weakest point. Social affairs offices under regional governments never renew data as required by the social affairs ministry. Even when data is updated, the new list of aid recipients is usually filled by supporters and potential supporters of regents or mayors. “Meanwhile, the budget for data updates from the social affairs ministry continues to be absorbed,” said Achsanul on April 28.
The data, which has been ‘rotting’ for years, is increasingly dangerous during a time of pandemic such as today, when budget is being increased and the number of aid recipients is raised. The BPK then held a meeting with Social Affairs Ministry Juliari Batubara on April 21, to discuss the mechanism for social assistance, both regular as well as non-regular.
Particularly in the case of regular aid, such as the Hope Family Program, said Achsanul, the BPK has asked the social affairs ministry to report and return unspent budget due to poor data to the state treasury for three years. So far, the data has been sitting at distributing banks. “If the social affairs ministry does not change the way it works, it is only banks that are benefited because they are receiving money at low cost,” said Achsanul, explaining what was discussed in the meeting.
It is not that the central government has not been aware of the great number of regions who have failed to update their DTKS data. Minister Juliari Batubara said the social affairs ministry, as DTKS’s holder, lets the regions submit names of aid recipients outside the DTKS. He admitted that for non-regular social aid from the central government, as many as 60 percent of recipients were taken from the DTKS. The rest were new names submitted by regional administrations. “We know the regions are overwhelmed in gathering data.” said Juliari. “But, if (they) fully use our data (DTKS), (they) could be blamed again.”
But apparently the problem does not stop there. Updates on data outside the DTKS by regency and city governments during the pandemic have not been any less chaotic. According to Governor Ridwan Kamil, because of slapdash data updates, the number of poor residents and residents vulnerable to poverty in West Java has spiked to 38 million, or 67 percent of the total population. “So you can imagine, the hands of two-thirds of West Java residents are now lowered (as in asking for aid),” he said.
Of the 38 million aid recipients in West Java, said Emil, as many as 1.7 million families are the result of careless data collecting. “The names are there but the citizenship registration numbers are incomplete.” The West Java Province has returned data from 14 regencies and cities. As a result, as of April 28, only 9.42 million families in West Java have been included on the list of regular and non-regular aid recipients.