Jokowi aide blasts Prabowo over claims of corruption

Mr Luhut Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, who took issue with presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto's assertion that data from Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission had uncovered huge losses in the state budget.

A senior minister and close aide to Indonesian President Joko Widodo has blasted former army general Prabowo Subianto over "lies" about corruption during a campaign rally on Sunday.

Mr Prabowo, who is Mr Joko's sole rival in the presidential election on April 17, had charged that the people were being "robbed" because of corruption.

"Corruption has stolen our economic resources that would have otherwise benefited the people," he was quoted as saying at a big rally in Jakarta.

He also criticised what he described as the Jokowi administration's too-liberal stance towards foreign investors.

But Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan yesterday emphasised that the government had complied with all laws, including investment laws.

"We work together with investors from China, Japan, the United States. If anyone says foreigners are the sole beneficiaries of our resources, that is not true. They have been paying taxes, trillions of rupiah," Mr Luhut told a media briefing.

He reiterated the government's four main conditions on foreign investments. These were the use of environmentally friendly technology; adding value instead of just tapping raw materials; creating jobs for Indonesians; and the transfer of technology. If local expertise was found to be lacking, foreign investors were duty bound to provide the training necessary to build up the required skills.

"Why do we live with lies? From one lie to another. Political elites should not do that. Everything the current government is doing has been based on laws - the laws that were created before the current government was installed," said Mr Luhut.

He also took issue with Mr Prabowo's assertion that data from Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) had uncovered huge losses in the state budget.

"Prabowo said the state budget had a 2,000 trillion rupiah (S$190 billion) leak, which doesn't make sense, because the size of our state budget is 2,400 trillion rupiah. Such a leak would have bankrupted us," he said.

A senior aide to Mr Luhut said Mr Prabowo had misunderstood a KPK report when he cited the figure, saying the agency was merely referring to the opportunity cost to the government in taxes.

A top KPK official, deputy for prevention Pahala Nainggolan, separately told online economic news portal Kontan, a unit of Indonesia's largest newspaper Kompas, that the figure represented a full compliance scenario in which 2,000 trillion rupiah would be the amount in additional revenue available to the state budget if every citizen in the country paid his taxes.

The election coming in less than 10 days is a rerun of the previous polls in 2014 when Mr Joko won the nation's top office after securing 53 per cent of the vote to Mr Prabowo's 47 per cent.

Most opinion polls show Mr Joko - popularly known as Jokowi - winning re-election, although Mr Prabowo has narrowed the gap with the incumbent.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2019, with the headline Jokowi aide blasts Prabowo over claims of corruption. Subscribe