Credit: the National Disaster Mitigation Agency's official Twitter account.

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Grief due to natural disasters has struck Indonesian over the past year. Earthquakes have claimed the lives of thousands of citizens and damaged state infrastructure. However, the portion of the government’s budget set aside to tackle such disasters continues to decline every year.

In the last five years, the disaster management budget has only been Rp5 trillion (US$344.83 million). After the earthquake in Lombok, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) itself needed funds of Rp12.7 trillion.

In the 2019 State budget portion, the government only poured Rp 610 billion into the body. This number dropped from the previous year. The reduction in the budget proves the government’s lack of partiality in the disaster management sector.

This comes even though almost all regions of Indonesia fall into the category of disaster-prone. The types of disasters range from earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and floods. It is estimated that the natural disasters occur, on average, 2,300 times in Indonesia. Along with developments, disaster points will also continue to grow.

This was confirmed by the head of Data, Information and Public Relations Center Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the agency’ budget does not include the calculation of costs for potential disasters.

He added, ideally the budget allocation for disaster agency is around one percent of the total State budget. Based on the procedure, every year the body has calculated and submitted a budget ceiling to detect and anticipate potential at some point.

However, the realization value of the Ministry of Finance is different. Even in some the areas its not enough to anticipate the potential for disaster.

For example, in Talaud Islands regency, North Sulawesi. The area near the Philippines is located on a subduction path prone to earthquakes and tsunamis to tropical cyclone winds. But the pre-disaster budget is only around Rp200 million.

Meanwhile, budgeting for the procurement of disaster detection equipment by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency often encounters obstacles because it’s not a strategic needs compared to the procurement of defense equipment.

After the Banten and Lampung disasters, President Joko Widodo urged the national disaster agency to immediately hold an earthquake detection device.

However, budgeting for early detection tools cannot be immediately realized because there are mechanisms that must be passed, from planning, budgeting and purchasing discussions, which must go through the study of parliament and inter-ministries. Moreover, the 2019 state-budget has been approved, the procurement will only be realized in the 2020 state-budget.

The slow pace of the government in responding to requests for early detection of earthquake and tsunami disasters became one of the factors causing the deaths of thousands of residents. With the geographical location in the disaster-prone zone, the presence of early detection devices actually helps disaster mitigation that can reduce casualties.

US$1: Rp14,500

Written by Daniel Deha, Email: theinsiderstories@gmail.com

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