Minister Denies Misusing Hajj Fund
Minister of Religious Affairs Maftuh Basyuni said on Tuesday that contrary to allegations made by an anti-graft watchdog, there were no irregularities in the management of the Hajj endowment fund, and that the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, was free to conduct a probe.
The Indonesian Corruption Watch last week accused the minister of three separate instances of corruption in 2004-05 in his position as head of the hajj endowment fund, or DAU. He was accused of accepting a bonus of Rp 25 million ($2,300) for Idul Fitri, receiving allowances of
Rp 10 million and accepting $5,000 in pocket money for a routine visit to Saudi Arabia.
“Please give the KPK time to study the documents submitted by the ICW,” Maftuh told a year-end ministry press conference.
Maftuh said that the accusation may have arisen because of a lack of understanding about what the DAU was and how it operated.
He said that according to a 1999 law on the hajj, the DAU was specifically allocated for activities such as religious education and preaching, health, social and economic affairs, the building of worshipping facilities, and the organizing of the annual hajj pilgrimage said the minister. The fund, he said, was managed by an agency lead by the minister of religious affairs, and its budget allocation governed by a 2001 presidential decree.
The disbursement of funds from the DAU for allowances for the fund manager, expenses for overseas trips, holiday allowances and other costs were stipulated by a ministerial decree, Maftuh said.
According to the decree, the minister of religious affairs, who also heads the DAU agency, receives a salary of Rp 15 million ($1,380) per month. According to Maftuh, after he joined President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s cabinet in October 2004, he started to receive allowances and bonuses from the hajj endowment fund.
“However, we saw that the functional allowance was too big. Then in January 2005, I decided to revise the previous regulation,” he said. “I reduced the functional allowance from Rp 15 million to Rp 5 million.”
He said that following a further study of the regulation, he ordered the fund to be frozen as of May 2005, and asked for a revision of the 2001 presidential decree.
The freeze has led to a halt of the payment of allowances and bonuses to the minister as well as to other DAU executives as the revision has yet to be made.