Village Chief Probed Over Land Charges
A Buleleng village head who charged local residents Rp700,000 (US$79) for land certification supposed to be issued free has claimed that he did not understand the system, and that the charges were for administration costs.
Gede Rahayudi, head of Sudaji village in the Sawan district, is under investigation for corruption in the administration of the land certificates as part of government-funded programme to regularise land title in local communities. Under the programme organised by the National Land Agency (BPN), applicants are expected to pay only the cost of validation stamps for the certificates.
Speaking to reporters Rahayudi said that he – along with other members of the village administration — had levelled the charges on Sudaji residents with the mutual consent of the applicants, and that the money had been used to pay for duty stamps. A duty stamp costs Rp6,000.
“I personally was given Rp5 million from the takings but this wasn’t money that I actually asked for; it was given to me by the village council,” Rahayudi said, adding that other councillors had received between Rp1 million and Rp2 million each from the money collected by applicants, with receipts provided.
According to Rahayudi a total of around Rp40 million was collected in apparently illegal charges from villagers, and the money not divided amongst the councillors was used to fund a village competition.
“At the time the land registration was being done we were very focussed indeed on organising the village competition,” he said.
The Buleleng State Attorney is currently investigating Rahayudi under 1999 anti-corruption laws intended to protect citizens from extortion by local officials.
A similar case has come to light in Jembrana, where village officials in the Pendem area were found to have been charging between Rp600,000 and Rp900,000 for the supposedly free land title certificates.
Deputy chairman of the Pendem village council Nengah Catra claimed on Saturday that as in the Buleleng case the decision to charge for the certificates had been taken by the council, with the fee set according to the area of land to be registered. He claimed the money was to cover administration and the cost of the Rp6,000 duty stamp.
Local resident Wayan Malih said he had been charged Rp600,000 to obtain certification for a 2,750-square-metre plot, and a further Rp800,000 for a larger 5553-metre plot. The certificate was issued after payment to village treasurer Ni Wayan Purnami, he said.
Nengah Catra said there had been insufficient clarification from the central authorities over the charging policy for the land certificates.Filed under: Headlines