Taking Over

Amid almost weekly revelations of alleged misuse and misappropriation of official funds by authorities around Bali, Governor I Made Mangku Pastika has decided he has had enough and has taken control of procurement – a fertile field for bent officials – in a move to halt apparently widespread corruption.

This is radical but appropriate action. It is a slap in the face of all those regional officials who are in charge of budgets. It says that either they are incompetent or – worse – that they are corrupt. It says that they are simply not capable of managing funds allocated to their areas. Naturally, they are complaining. One official said this week: “With the entire procurement process managed by the governor, existing procurement committees in each regional work unit will be jobless.”

But it is better for such people to be out of work than to be damaging Bali with their inability to adequately do their jobs.

Another official was quoted as saying “The reason is to prevent corruption, but will it not encourage the opposite?”

We do not see that it will promote graft. Instead, it will rein in any such potential by centralising the process under a morality-driven authority. As Bali’s police chief, Pastika’s no-nonsense approach was applauded here and abroad, and we are now, thankfully, seeing that method applied at local government level.

However, the problem of corruption will not stop with this alone. As we have noted editorially before, one of the underlying reasons for stealing at state level is the abysmally low salaries that public servants are paid, which oftentimes is not enough to survive and support a family.

Because of this, additional income streams must be sought, whether or not they are above-board. This is a national problem, not just one confined to Bali. Paying government employees a sufficient wage will go a long way towards ending the entrenched corruption that has for so long stymied the development of this island and the country.

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