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Bali's Tourism Funds Stolen?

Investigation Continues into Alleged Loss of Rp. 3 Billion in Bali's Tourism Promotion Budget.

(2/15/2010) A range of local and national media are awash with news of suspected corruption and the misappropriation of precious tourism marketing funds at the Bali Provincial Tourism office. In response to a growing number of negative reports in the media, a special investigative team from the Inspectorate of the Bali provincial government visited the Tourism office on Monday, February 8, 2010, to audit expense claims in connection with Bali tourism promotion and overseas sales missions.

The head of the public relations department of the Bali provincial government, Ketut Teneng said: "We are serious (in handling) these discoveries of corruption. Moreover, we are very pleased that the media is playing a critical role to bring forth suspicions of budget violations within the government."

According to Teneng, the audit team has accumulated a number of receipts in connection with the claim suggesting that up to Rp. 3 billion (US$300,000) had been corrupted from Bali's tourism budget. He also said the current efforts to root out the corruption has the full support of Bali's Governor, Made Mangku Pastika.

In a related development, Commission IV of the Bali House of Representatives held hearing with the Chief of Bali Tourism (Kadisparda), IB Subhisku on the formulation of (new) rules and regulations governing tourism enterprises. Those hearings, however, shifted focus from the formulation of new rules to the topic of the suspected corruption in the government agency headed by Subhisku.

In response to legislator's questions, Subhisku said his office has summoned the suspected official (identified in the press with the initials IG PA). "I have called him in order that he can explain and be held accountable for these allegations. I am new in Bali Tourism Department, while these cases occurred between 2002 and 2008. I am not in a position to say if these occurrences are the responsibility of my predecessor before I hear IG PA's explanation," explained Subhisku.

Subhisku also asked IG PA to provide an explanation to the Provincial Secretary, underlining "if mistakes have been made someone must take responsibility."

Upon hearing Subhisku's response, the Vice-Chairman of Commission IV, I Ketut Kariyasa, offered his comments. He said there must be a call from the Head of the Bali Tourism Office demanding a final and complete resolution of the case. Kariyasa said that it was his understanding that the cost of renting stands was always part of the provincial tourism budget. Now, he maintained, it appears that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has also allocated money for stand rentals. "This has to be investigated. Let's not let some stupid official destroy the name of Bali tourism in the eyes of the public and the travel industry. And if the charges are true, those responsible must be brought to justice before the criminal corruption process," demanded Kariyasa.

Another member of Commission IV, Cokorda Kartiyasam, told Radar Bali that third parties, such as hotels, following travel marts always also paid for their booths. "Before, I also paid. This must be explained and the expenses justified," said Kartiyasam.

Separately IB Subhisku told the press that he welcomed any efforts to bust open this or any other case of corruption, insisting that anyone found to be involved must be called to justice and every single Rupiah must be accounted for.

The case of corruption in Bali Tourism Office commenced when an anonymous party sent data and chronologies of suspected malfeasance to the Bali Tourism Office. The alleged modus operandi involved the falsification of receipts and reports to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. There are also indication of double-debits taking place for a promotional stands costing Rp. 120 million (US$12,000) with the same stand being charged twice once to the Ministry in Jakarta and again to the provincial tourism office in Bali. The corruption reportedly took place from 2002 to 2008 and involved Rp. 3 billion (US$300,000).