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Wednesday, 30 May, 2012 | 16:51 WIB
Misused Subsidy Funds for Fertilizer Hurts Farmers
TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:It is odd that the ongoing misuse of funds allocated for fertilizer subsidies is still allowed. Billions of rupiah of the state’s money that is supposed to reach farmers has trickled down to fertilizer industries and government officials instead. Such shady practices would have not run smoothly without the involvement of House of Representatives (DPR) members who control the state budget.
Obscured in the Sustainable Recovery of Wetland Fertility package, the agriculture minister has been accused of misusing the subsidies for the last two years. At that time, additional subsidies were approved in the DPR’s revised 2010 state budget, from Rp14.76 trillion to Rp18.41 trillion. Some Rp300 billion of that amount was allocated for the provision of bio-fertilizer and decomposers. The two solid organic fertilizers contain microbes that accelerate decomposition.
The problem lies in the fact that the subsidies were not distributed directly to farmers. The system would have been more effective that way because farmers know what fertilizers they need. In the state budget, the funds were clearly allocated for fertilizer subsidies. The use of bio-fertilizer and decomposers is considered inappropriate because farmers do not know how to utilize the fertilizers due to a lack of publicized information.
The procurement of bio-fertilizers and bio-decomposers has also been questioned because the process was conducted without any tender offering. The Agriculture Ministry directly appointed a company, Berdikari, as a project executor. Berdikari then cooperated with Vitafarm Indonesia, which produced the bio-fertilizer Vitabio and bio-decomposer Vitadegra—both to be used to restore 6.3 hectares of land.
The two brands have attracted some attention due to their allegedly marked-up prices. The government set the bio-decomposer price at Rp59,059 per kilogram and the bio-fertilizer price at Rp548,171 per kilogram. On the market, these fertilizers are sold at half the price.
Law enforcement agencies should be investigating this case thoroughly. Evidence of misappropriation is too obvious. The direct appointment of Berdikari as the project executor, for instance, violates Presidential Decree No. 80/2003 on Goods and Services Procurement. The Supreme Court had investigated the case back in 2010 with no apparent follow up. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) had also looked into the case with no results.
The complicated investigation process has led to the ongoing provision of bio-fertilizer and bio-decomposers. The project was proposed once again in this year’s state budget at Rp400 billion. However, this year, the Agriculture Ministry will offer the project through bidding. The funds are not allocated for fertilizer subsidies, but for regular expenses of the Agriculture Ministry’s Facilities and Infrastructure Directorate-General. Despite this fact, the provision of fertilizers is still questionable because the bio-fertilizer and bio-decomposers seem are specifically focused on Vitafarm products.
The public may be used to the fact that the DPR is not questioning the shady practices. However, Indonesians must be concerned if law enforcement agencies, especially the KPK, do not start investigating the case.