Organizations urge government to be more open

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A coalition of civil society organizations on Saturday urged the government to fully apply the principle of open government and incorporate active participation in development programs to prevent the misuse of funds.

The principle, which includes open data, is expected to be the basis of the country’s development in the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) era. The organizations believe that this would boost Indonesia’s income and pave the way for the government to allocate more funds for the good of the people.

The statement was delivered during Civil Society Day and Market Place on Saturday in Nusa Dua, held to discuss the strategies of around 150 local and international civil society organizations to promote open government during the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Asia Pacific Regional Meeting being held May 6 and 7 in Bali.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to inaugurate the meeting.

The coalition — including Transparency International Indonesia (TII), MediaLink, INFID, Sloka Institute and the Tifa Foundation — aims to push the government to immediately apply these principles to nix widespread corruption.

“Indonesia has achieved a mere 20 percent of its MDGs, among others due to corruption and misappropriation of public funds. This is because we have not yet implemented the principle of open government,” executive director of MediaLink, Ahmad Faisol, told reporters on Saturday.

Ahmad added that the implementation of the 2008 Freedom of Information Law was only 51 percent. “Many provincial and regional administrations have yet to enforce this law.”

He mentioned, as an example, that several administrations had dismissed a request for information made by the Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) to probe the misappropriation of the Education and Culture Ministry’s school operational assistance (BOS) grants and the fat bank accounts of National Police officers.

Ahmad also mentioned the case of the open government pilot project in Ambon, Maluku, saying the project was running poorly due to poor internet access and a lack of Internet literacy in the local populace, meaning the website was an inappropriate way to connect with the public.

In fact, the freedom of information law is fully backed by the 2009 Public Service Law. “The correct implementation of these two laws could help Indonesia boost its income from various sources, which could be used to fund development,” Ahmad said.

“It also affects the implementation of social security programs,” he added.

Ilham Saenong, program director of TII, echoed Ahmad, saying that the two-day meeting would be strategic to the acceleration of improvements in public services. He added that it could spur the government into resolving corruption issues in a better manner.

“The implementation of open governance would minimize the embezzlement of development funds,” he said.

As chair of this meeting, Indonesia is expected to use the momentum to accelerate the application of open governance, including through more-even distribution of telecommunications infrastructure.

The outcome of the event will identify common platforms and challenges for civil society to take concrete action and foster further collaboration. A civil society communiqué will also be formulated stressing the utmost importance of safeguarding civic space, as well as improving OGP mechanisms.
by : Luh De Suriyani,Source : The Bali Daily,Photograph : goverment tranparency

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