Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Three Months After The Catastrophic Earthquake & Tsunami (11 of 13)

The Jakarta Post
Saturday, March 26, 2005

Blueprint completed, Aceh reconstruction set to start
By Rendi A. Witular, Jakarta

The reconstruction of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and the surrounding tsunami-stricken areas will be able to start in the immediate future now that the government has completed the final draft of its blueprint for rehabilitation in the province.

The blueprint, to be enshrined in a presidential regulation, should pave the way for donor countries to start disbursing their pledges to money to help finance the program.

State Minister for National Development Planning Sri Mulyani Indrawati said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had agreed to the blueprint and tasked Vice President Jusuf Kalla to fly to Aceh on March 26 to make the necessary preparations.

"The blueprint will act as our guidelines for redeveloping Aceh. The government is now preparing the necessary legal framework to make the blueprint workable," said Mulyani during a press briefing after a Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

To ensure coordination during the implementation stage, Mulyani said, the government would soon issue a presidential regulation on the establishment of a special executive agency for Aceh. The members of the agency are currently being selected by the government.

The blueprint consists of 12 books -- one covering the reconstruction master plan and the remaining 11 setting out the details of the individual programs.

All in all, the blueprint provides a comprehensive, wide-ranging redevelopment program, with four important sectors being prioritized -- the community, economy, infrastructure, and administrative institutions.

In addition, it will also provide guidelines regarding the disbursement of the funds and accountability, with the state budget, and donor countries and agencies being the main sources of the funds.

"Based on the blueprint, funding assistance from foreign donors is subject for government approval aside from a letter of notice. The government will put a number of systems in place for the executive process," said Mulyani.

The donors can put their money into trust funds managed by committees of trustees consisting of representatives of the government and the donors, who have to approve the disbursement and use of funds.

The donors can also directly disburse funds for reconstruction programs with the government's approval.

Mulyani said that assistance funds would need to be first registered with the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), before being collected by the Ministry of Finance and channeled to executive agency.

Aside from the Rp 4.6 trillion (US$494 million) spent by foreign donors during the relief program, donor countries and agencies had pledged to disburse a total of Rp 66.2 trillion to assist with reconstruction. Most of the pledges have yet to be disbursed, pending the completion of the blueprint.

The costs of reconstruction, according to the blueprint, will reach an estimated Rp 41.1 trillion over the next five years, Mulyani said. This is lower than the Rp 45 trillion estimated earlier.

"The estimated cost is not definite yet. It is still subject to changes in the immediate future," she said.

To help ensure accountability, another independent agency or a board would be established to oversee and monitor the whole process.

"We are soon going to set up an agency or a board tasked with overseeing the reconstruction process so that remains free of corruption."

"Members of the agency will include state auditors as well as independent auditors," said Mulyani.

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