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Yudhoyono ensures a comfortable retirement
Publication Date : 13-06-2014
With only four months left in office, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a presidential regulation that will allow him unlimited access to state funds to pay for a private residence.
This policy is against a move by Yudhoyono last month for state budget efficiency by slashing the budgets of 86 ministries and institutions.
Two earlier residential regulations set a maximum of 20 billion rupiah (US$1.7 million) for a property. However, the new one has no financial ceiling.
The new rule loosely defines a decent residence as “a plot of land and the building on it”, which “is located in an accessible area with adequate road network, with a design and size that supports the activity of the former president or former vice president and their families”.
The new regulation also specifies that the residence should guarantee the safety of former president and vice president.
The new regulation was issued based on Law No. 7/1978 on financial and administrative privileges for the president and vice president.
The law entitles former presidents and vice presidents to a residence provided by the state.
Neither the law nor the ensuing regulations detail and specify the term “decent homes” for former presidents and vice presidents.
Yudhoyono, who is barred from running for a third term, appears to have taken the same road as his predecessor, Megawati Soekarnoputri in 2004, who caused uproar after giving herself a new home using state funds.
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha, however, said Yudhoyono was not aiming for personal gain by signing the decree.
Julian said that former presidents and vice presidents who had yet to receive their residence rights could refer to the new regulation.
Four weeks before leaving office in 2004, Megawati signed a decree that set the maximum price of a residence for former presidents and vice presidents at 20 billion rupiah.
At the time, many believed Megawati had made the move after learning of her imminent defeat by Yudhoyono.
Megawati denied the suggestion, saying that the decree had been planned since she took office in 2002.
Contacted separately, Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam said the new regulation was actually issued to accommodate a demand from former vice president Jusuf Kalla, who is now running as Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s running mate in the July 9 presidential election.
Kalla has yet to get a residence from the state after he left office in 2009.
“The previous rules set a maximum cost of 20 billion rupiah, but he wants to get an expensive house near Brawijaya [in South Jakarta]. The new regulation set a flexible [amount], although the cost will be in the hands of the finance minister,” Dipo said.
Procurement of the house will use money from the State Secretariat, while the calculation of its valuation, which is under the Finance Ministry, should be consistent with the criteria set by the new regulation that comes to effect on June 4.
Law No. 7/1978 itself has drawn criticism especially after the downfall of former president Soeharto in 1998. Many said the retirement home scheme was part of a systemic culture of graft.
His successor BJ Habibie granted Soeharto 27 billion rupiah for his personal residence in Taman Mini, East Jakarta.
Soeharto, however, returned the money to the state due to strong public protests.