In front of President Joko Widodo the Mayors and Regents Request District Funds - Photo by the President's Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Ahead of the 2019 Presidential Election, the government suddenly made a new program, namely district funds. This program was announced directly by President Joko Widodo, during a working visit in Bali on Oct. 19, 2018.

“Starting next year, there is a district budget,” said Widodo, by added, the program was issued by the government because of the many complaints related to the budget at the district level. One complaint was conveyed by the Association of Indonesian City Government when met him at the Bogor Palace, last July.

In principle, this program is similar to village funds that have been implemented since the beginning of the Widodo-Jusuf Kalla administration. Each urban village will receive fresh funds that can be used to build infrastructure and facilities in the village.

The deputy minister of finance Mardiasmo said the budget was taken from village funds that has been budgeted Rp70 trillion in the 2019 State Budget. As much as Rp3 trillion (US$206.90 million) were deducted and transferred to the district funds, he added.

On the other hand, he also admitted that there were no legal umbrella governing the issue of district funds. According to Mardiasmo, the legal umbrella for district funds is still being discussed at the directorate general of balancing at Ministry of Finance.

The village funds itself can be implemented through the Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 6 of 2014 concerning Villages. As for the district, there are no laws regulating.

After president delivered this program, suddenly there were a number of opposition politicians who criticized the program did not yet have a legal umbrella, but were already budgeted in a hurry. They also questioned the district funds that suddenly appeared before the 2019 presidential election.

Vice President candidate’s Sandiaga Uno suspected there was political content behind the allocation of the district fund. In line with him, the deputy speaker of the House who is also a cadre of Gerindra Fadli Zon questioned the government’s planned. He rated there was something strange when the district funds was only disbursed in the political year.

But Minister for Domestic Affairs Tjahjo Kumolo rejected the criticized. He said, that the budgeting for district funds from the central government was not for President Widodo’s political interests in the 2019 presidential election.

“There is no political consideration. This plan is not new, it was suggested by the regents and mayors two years ago,” said the minister.