West Papua gets Rp 1.1t in autonomy funds

West Papua gets Rp 1.1t in autonomy funds

The Jakarta Post
The Archipelago
Nethy Dharma Somba ,

The Province of West Papua received Rp 1.1 trillion (US$100 million) in special autonomy funds in the 2009 budget. Since its initial disbursement in 2002, the special autonomy fund,--the implementation of its special autonomy status based on Law No. 21/2001-- was managed by the province of Papua.

West Papua, however, officially separated from Papua to establish a new province in March 2006 by electing its own governor through a peaceful regional election. The special autonomy fund for West Papua of Rp 1.1 trillion accounted for about 30 percent of the Rp 3.7 trillion received by the two respective funds for each province. The other Rp 2.6 trillion was earmarked to the province of Papua. This year¹s Rp 3.7 trillion special autonomy fund, which increased from Rp 3.5 trillion in 2008, is about 2 percent of the total general allocation fund at the central government. The general allocation fund constitutes money allocated to each autonomous province or regency in the country annually as a development fund. The fund is taken from the state budget and becomes part of the regional budget. Head of the Papua provincial financial bureau, Ahmad Hatari, said that the percentage of the fund allocated between West Papua and Papua was decided by the central government, taking into consideration total area, population and the level of difficulty in managing the respective provinces. Hatari said that a 30 percent allocation to West Papua was commensurate with its eight regencies/cities compared to 27 regencies/cities in Papua. Delivering government services in West Papua was also much easier than in Papua, which has vast mountainous areas which are mostly still inaccessible, he said.

The funding was sent directly from the central government to West Papua without being handed over to the Papua province first. Hatari further said that the allocation of special autonomy funding was made possible through Government Regulation No. 1/2008, in lieu of Presidential Instruction No. 1/2003 and Law No. 45/1999. The latter two established the initial legal basis for the creation of the West Papua province, and were annulled by the Constitutional Court as they contradicted with Law No. 21/2001 on the special autonomy status of Papua.

For the Papua province itself, Hatari said, the Rp 2.6 trillion in funding would be spent partly under the strategic kampong development plan, a policy initiated by Papua Governor Bas Suebu to empower indigenous Papuan people. Under the plan each of the 320 kampongs in Papua is given Rp 100 million. The remaining Rp 1.3 trillion is distributed to the 27 regencies/cities throughout Papua. Hatari said that six newly established regencies and two regencies, whose regents have yet to be chosen, will receive 30 percent of the average allocation in the province.

³This decision was taken considering that the newly established regencies would still be busy forming governmental institutions, their local legislative council and conducting regional elections,² he said. Hatari said that through this year¹s special autonomy fund, the Papuan provincial administration will offer free school tuition for indigenous, high-achieving Papuan students and free medical care for all indigenous Papuan people.