By Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, PhD candidate, Politics.
Poor communities in rural areas of Indonesia should not solely be the responsibility of the central and regional governments but the rural governments which receive significant amount of rural funds.
Addressing problems such as poor nutrition and limited access to education experienced by poor communities in rural areas of Indonesia should not solely be the responsibility of the central and regional governments. Rather, the responsibility must also be placed on the shoulders of rural governments, which in the last three years has received significant amount of rural funds (Dana Desa) amounting to hundreds of millions of rupiah. Disbursement of rural funds strengthens the rural budget acceptance structure. It should also be sufficient to fund the expenditure of poverty reduction programs and empowerment of rural communities.
Rural funds which are the main revenue component of the Rural Revenue and Expenditure Budget (APBDes) should ideally be optimised to fund malnutrition, education and maternal mortality programs. The funds should also ideally be an essential instrument to meet a basic social services program in health and education. This should be a strategic solution to overcome malnutrition, under-five mortality rate, and drop-out rates.
The central government through Permendesa, PDT and Transmigration No. 19 of 2017 on Stipulation of Rural Funds Priority for Fiscal Year 2018, mandates the allocation of rural funds to finance rural development and community empowerment programs. In the priority scheme, it is the rural government’s obligation to make various basic social service activities funded through the allocation of the funds. Article 5 Point B Permendesa Number 19/2017 requires villages to implement procurement, construction, development and maintenance of basic social services facilities for the fulfillment of needs related to public health and education.
Meanwhile in Article 7 Point E there is an emphasis on rural governments to allocate the fund to the implementation of a community empowerment program in which a basic social service program is formulated. The article clearly defines some examples of activity related to basic social services, including: the provision of health care costs for mothers from poor households, scholarships for school-aged children from poor households, strengthening of polyclinics, and others.
In principle, programs related to basic social services should be prioritised in the allocation of rural funds in 2018 which include:
- First, improving the quality and access of basic social services for the community including: management of community health services, incentive assistance for community empowerment cadres, provision of maternity services, nutritional support for under-fives, scholarships for elementary school-aged children, and so forth.
- Second, the development of rural-based basic social service infrastructures, such as the development of early childhood education and various healthcare programs.
- Third, poverty alleviation which is oriented to improve health and education of poor people.
Basic social service programs in rural areas are effective if they are truly planned on the basis of community needs and supported by sufficient budget. They would prevent the recurrence of malnutrition cases, drop-out rates, maternal mortality and under-five mortality rates, which often affects the rural communities in Indonesia. Of particular importance is that the planning of basic social service programs should be based on the community’s interest. The planning of the basic social service programs should be conducted in a democratic manner through Musrenbangdes (Musyawarah Rencana Pembangunan Desa) or Rural Multi Stakeholder Consultation Forum for Development Planning.
The range of basic social services activities in the field of health education should ideally listed in the draft of the Rural Medium Term Development Plan which contains the vision of the Rural Head and Rural Government Work Plan. This represents the plan of rural development activities every year. The accountability of the basic social service programs covered by rural funds should be truly beneficial to the community.
Accountability should also be emphasised
Accountability of basic social service programs is determined by several aspects: the quality of activities formulated in rural planning, the accuracy of allocations, locations and targets, outcomes, results of post-implementation of activities, and effectiveness in addressing poverty problems. Similarly, the volume of rural budget funds used for basic social services should reach at least 20% of total APBDes expenditure.
Budget management for basic social services must also be clear of corruption and accountable administratively according to the operational standards of procedures and regulations. There should be no mark-up or waste in the management of the basic social service program budget.
Note: This article gives the views of the author/academic featured and does not represent the views of the Global Development Institute as a whole.