Golkar Refuses Funding for Bird Flu Vaccine Plant
Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Golkar is the latest political party to reject a government proposal for funding to finish construction of a stalled bird flu vaccine plant, citing the corruption allegations swirling around the initial allocation.
“The decision of the Golkar members of the House of Representatives is to reject any effort to continue this project,” veteran party legislator Poempida Hidayatulloh said on Friday.
Poempida, who serves on House Commission IX overseeing health affairs, said the party based its decision on the fact that the preliminary phase of the project was mired in graft. An audit of the initial Rp 800 billion ($82.4 million) disbursement for the project by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) found that up to Rp 600 billion was lost as a result of embezzlement, markups and bid-rigging.
Agung Laksono, the coordinating minister for people’s welfare and a Golkar stalwart, previously said the government needed additional funding to produce vaccines in an effort to tackle a rising number bird flu cases nationwide.
Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi warned late last year that her office had identified a new strain of the avian influenza virus that was found to attack ducks that were immune to the more common strain.
Golkar’s opposition to the additional Rp 1.2 trillion in funding for the project comes on the back of a similar position by the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which said the corruption scandal made it impossible to justify the extra funding.