RI is ‘over liquid’: Finance Minister

Padang ekspres.net-The slow process of disbursing the state budget has raised concerns among some legislators, who said that the problem could be caused by the government’s financial difficulties.

Speaking during a House of Representatives (DPR) hearing with the Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo, Maruarar Sirait, a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) asked if the slow disbursement of the budget was due to problems with the state’s finances.

“Does the government have enough money for that?” he asked during the hearing.

Agus dismissed the question. “We are actually over liquid,” he said in a reference to the government’s financial condition. He said that the funds currently retained in the government’s accounts were more than enough to meet official requests.

“We have never had less than Rp 160 trillion [US$17.92 billion] in cash since I was first appointed finance minister,” said Agus, who replaced Sri Mulyani Indrawati in May.

According to Agus, slow disbursement could be attributed to the many budget disbursement requests submitted by government offices that did not meet standard procedures.

“[The documents] have been returned and revised several times,” he added.

As of Oct. 15, the disbursement of money for government spending reached Rp 681.7 trillion, or 60.5 percent of the budget.

Disbursement of state funds allocated for capital expenditures were 38 percent of the allotted total of
Rp 95.02 trillion.

House members hoped that disbursement for capital expenditures, including infrastructure development, could be accelerated.

The Finance Ministry has enough cash on hand for immediate budget disbursements, Agus said.

However, disbursement depends on the readiness of ministries and other government institutions to prepare documents needed for goods and services procurement, he said.

“I just want to say, please, don’t blame us for this less-than-optimal disbursement,” the Finance Minister said.

As of Oct. 15, state revenues had reached 72 percent of a total Rp 990.50 trillion as stipulated by the revised 2010 budget, due to higher revenues from tax and excises.

“In terms of revenue, we are quite okay, actually,” he said, adding that ministries and other governmental institutions should effectively realize budget spending for an optimum disbursement by the end of the year.

As finance minister, Agus said, he had to remind all ministries and other government institutions to show progress in completing documents direly needed as the basis for disbursements.

Despite slow disbursement, he said, the government would be able to keep the fiscal deficit on the
right track.

“[The fiscal deficit] will not exceed than 2.1 percent. It will reach 1.5 percent, more or less,” he said, adding that the deficit might be less than 1.5 percent due to the availability of the budget.

Separately, Finance Ministry budget director general Herry Purnomo said Thursday that the government still had a surplus of Rp 40.22 trillion.

“We have more revenues than spending, resulting in a surplus worth Rp 40.22 trillion,” he said.

According to the Finance Ministry, as of Oct. 15, realized grant and state revenues reached Rp 721.9 trillion or 72.7 percent of a total Rp 992.40 trillion, as stipulated in the revised 2010 budget. (ebf/thejakartapost)

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