The Indonesian Military (TNI) has turned over a new leaf by announcing the contracts for its procurement projects this year, the first time it has made such a disclosure to the public.
Last Friday, the TNI signed 389 contracts for goods and services projects worth Rp 5.9 trillion, including procurement of bullets, military vehicles, weapons, communication equipment and other supporting infrastructure.
TNI chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said that the contracts had followed the bidding process stipulated by Presidential Decree No. 70/2012 on governmental goods and service procurement.
“The contracts are to meet the needs of the Navy, Army and Air Force, excluding routine spending,” he said.
Gatot said he expected that the TNI would publish new procurement contracts in the future, so that the TNI’s budget disbursement would improve significantly and meet planned development targets.
The Air Force published its procurement contracts two weeks earlier in what it told reporters was an effort to improve transparency.
“By opening the process of our working contracts to the public, we take a step toward public transparency,” Air Force spokesperson Air Commodore Dwi Badarmanto said.
Wawan Purwanto, an intelligence and security expert from the University of Indonesia, said he appreciated the improved transparency in military institutions.
“The TNI is a closed-institution and it is difficult to request information from them, so a more open procurement is good news for taxpayers because now they know where their money goes,” Wawan told The Jakarta Post.
He said that public also expected TNI personnel to become members of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
“This is a sign that they want the TNI to be open and transparent,” he added.
UK-based antigraft watchdog Transparency International (TI) awarded Indonesian’s defense and military sector a score of D, which indicates high risk, in 2015, slightly better than 2014’s score of E, which indicates a very high risk.
Scores for the index, which assesses 135 countries across the globe, range from A, for very low risk, to F, for very critical risk.
TI researcher Tehmina Abbas suggested that the high corruption risk in Indonesia’s defense sector was due to the long-standing secrecy surrounding procurement in military projects, in which leaders are not transparent about spending and block any attempted scrutiny from the public.
Abbas said Indonesia also lacked laws that ensured effective monitoring, particularly of procurement. “The government should publish all procurement contracts and conduct regular audits,” he said.
In recent years, the government has continued to increase military spending, giving the Defense Ministry
Rp 102.3 trillion (US$ 7.5 billion) in 2015, an increase from Rp 17 trillion in 2010.
Military expert al-Araf of Imparsial also appreciated the TNI’s step, however, he said that TNI still needed to improve its transparency and accountability by allowing the KPK to investigate TNI corruption cases.
“Openness about procurement is not the only aspect of transparency and accountability. TNI also needs to open the possibility of investigations into their previous procurements, especially of weaponry systems,” al-Araf said.
He added that the revision of Law No. 31/1997 on Military Court should also be priority.
“The law gives impunity to military personnel to commit crimes, including corruption,” he said.