Political parties allegedly did not thoroughly report their funds, including membership fees and public donations they collected. The parties only reported the funds they received from the government because funds from the state to the parties would be checked by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK).
Interviewed by Jaring.id on Friday, March 17, 2023, Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) researcher Kurnia Ramadhan said that political parties, as public bodies, should have reported all of their funds in compliance with the Law on Public Information Disclosure.
Political parties only report the funds they received from the government, what do you think?
Based on the Public Information Disclosure Act, political parties are categorized as public bodies whose entire works and substances of political parties must be open publicly because it is mandated by law. Even so, political parties might consider that they have done enough and fulfilled their responsibility [regarding fund management] only by reporting the political assistance fund sourced from the state budget (APBN) and regional budget (APBD) and having the fund audited by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK).
In fact, when there was a public information dispute between ICW and the Democrat Party, the Public Information Commission (KIP) issued a firm decision that political party funds from membership fees, donations (by individuals, companies, or organizations), and political assistance from the state must be openly disclosed to the public. So, there should be no more debates on whether the sources of political party finance should be disclosed or not.
What about political party fund audits?
There are audits of political party funds, but the audits are only applied to political assistance funds from the government. As for membership fees and donations from other parties, there has never been an audit, and it is not disclosed to the public.
What are the consequences of political parties not being transparent?
If we talk about extreme conditions, it is not impossible that the funds entering political parties are the proceeds of crime, money laundering, and corruption, all to enrich the political parties. To make this problem clear, political party funds need to be audited and disclosed openly through social media channels. This is part of the transparency and accountability of political parties.
Do high political costs affect the potential for corruption?
High political costs do have some influence on the potential for corruption. But this cannot be used as an excuse. We cannot include that argument in an open or closed professional system. If the party incurs high costs to cover other costs, it is a justification and a contrived excuse. Suppressing political costs is not done by being secretive. Corrupt practices will still be carried out through political parties. To overcome high political costs and corruption, there needs to be integrated law enforcement and strong internal political party mechanisms to prevent it.
How to prevent high political costs?
Don’t do money politics. Parties should be able to utilize technology. They can make the most of campaign props. There are many things they can do (in election campaigns) without practicing money politics.
Some political parties use crowdfunding, what do you think?
Crowdfunding for political parties is today’s mechanism. On one side, we understand that the campaign costs are high, but how political parties would be able to account for the crowdfunding mechanisms? Are there certain limits for donations?
There should be no mechanism of “returning the favor” (between the donors and the political parties once the parties get into power.) The crowdfunding mechanism should also oblige donors to provide a clear identity, not be anonymous.
This is a technical step to prevent crowdfunding from being simply labeled as a public campaign or as a camouflage mechanism to inject large flows of funds. which is clearly restricted by the Election Law.
So, crowdfunding practices must be publicly disclosed?
Yes, whatever they do, as long as it is the work of political parties, they are fully bound by the Law on Public Information Disclosure (KIP) and thus should be opened to the public. When the public asks for information, they are obliged to provide this information, including internal funding and campaigns using any channel or by any means.
Then how to implement clean politics?
First, political parties must improve their internal management to provide or make regulations accompanied by administrative enforcement by prohibiting the giving of money. This is the responsibility of all, not only the political parties. The Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu), the Police, and the Attorney General’s Office should take action against money politics. The public must also be aware of it. This is important (to implement clean politics) so that the 2024 politics will have integrity.
What should the General Election Commission (KPU) do in the future to avoid money politics?
When processing the administration of political parties as candidates for elections, the General Election Commission should oblige parties to disclose information, especially financial sources. If they cannot provide the required administrative documents, they cannot pass the 2029 elections.