Ministry Denies KPK Report Found Extensive Corruption in Hajj Program

By webadmin on 11:34 pm May 23, 2010
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Nurfika Osman

The Ministry of Religious Affairs has acknowledged being the subject of a recent report by the antigraft body, but denied any corruption in its management of the hajj.

Abdul Ghafur Djawahir, secretary at the Directorate General of Hajj and Umroh Management, told the Jakarta Globe over the weekend that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) had found problems with its hajj management, but that these were not related to graft.

“There has been no corruption discovered in the ministry. The [KPK] findings simply say that there are weaknesses that need to be fixed,” he said.

“It’s a sin to corrupt hajj funds. We are going to improve our human resources, infrastructure and also the management of hajj funds,” Abdul Ghafur added.

The KPK issued a report detailing 48 flaws in the ministry’s management of the hajj. The report resulted from its investigation into the ministry’s management of the 2009 hajj, including logistics, transportation, religious education and accommodation for pilgrims.

KPK spokesman Johan Budi said on Sunday that the commission would give the ministry three months to address the problems.

“If the ministry does not make improvements we could end up evaluating the whole system, and we could also end up investigating it for indications of corruption,” Johan said on Sunday.

The spokesman added that the report was based on investigations conducted between January last year and March this year.

One problem cited by the commission was the channeling of interest from hajj applicants’ fees and a lack of transparency surrounding the DAU, or hajj endowment fund, which holds any excess interest not disbursed for pilgrimage services. Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali earlier said the ministry stored the money from the deposits in a number of banks and used the interest to pay for hajj services.

Johan said that there was a possibility the funds were being disbursed elsewhere.