Jakarta, 15 January 2016 – President Joko Widodo ordered the village governments to use the 2016 village fund disbursed by the central government only for infrastructure development[i]. PATTIRO regards the president’s statement as something that has harm villages’ democratic spirit. “The decision has violated the Village Law mandate which has provided more democratic spaces to the village citizens and encouraged the establishment of village independence. This means, the government has forced the village to follow their will,” PATTIRO Executive Director Sad Dian Utomo asserted.
To him, if the village governments follow the president’s order, it means they have shut off the functions of village discussion. Accordingly, there will be many people’s aspirations abandoned. “Village discussion is a place for the community to make sure that their needs have been accommodated in the development planning. Since the 2016 village fund can only be used for infrastructure development, the aspirations people convey in the village discussion have to be limited, or even be abandoned. If that happens, there is no use they organize the discussion,” said Sad Dian.
Furthermore, Sad Dian admits, fund allocation for infrastructure development is still important. However, ordering the village government to use the entire village fund only for infrastructure development is an unfair action and has ignored the village needs. “Some villages may need the fund for economic empowerment and basic service improvement, more than they need infrastructure development. If the central government force them to use the village fund only for infrastructure development, it is not fair,” Sad Dian added.
Sad Dian suggests, it will be better if the central government keep using the Village Minister Regulation Number 5 Year 2015 on Priority Use of Village Fund[ii] as a reference, stating that the village fund is used not only for infrastructure development, but also for community’s basic needs fulfilment, local economic empowerment, as well a sustainably natural resources and environment utilization.
Sad Dian said that it is okay if the government wants to prioritize the infrastructure development in the villages. Nevertheless, the government should keep providing choices to the village government. “It is okay if the government wants to prioritize the physical development in the villages with poor infrastructure. But, the government still has to provide options to the villages. If they no longer need any construction, let them use the fund the government gave to develop their other potentials,” he explained.
The point is, Sad Dian emphasized, the government has to open up more space to the villages to determine their own needs. “Do not take away their democratic space the Law has given to the villages. If the government really wants to create independent villages, let them determine what their needs by their own,” Sad Dian asserted.
[i] The statement was delivered by the Minister of Villages, Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration Marwan Jafar in gathering event with the civil society on January 13, 2016 in Villages, Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration Minister Office.
[ii] Village Minister Regulation Number 5 Year 2015 on Priority Use of Village Fund can be accessed here.
The Indonesian version of this article is published in Aktual.com with the title Soal Dana Desa, PATTIRO: Presiden Cederai Demokrasi Desa