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A Sign of the Times

Lighted Sign Board at Bali's Busy Simpang Siur Roundabout the Focus of a Corruption Investigation.

(3/26/2011) Questions over the price paid for a large-screen LED (Light-emitting diode) TV system installed in Kuta at the Simpang Siur roundabout is causing headaches for Bali's governor Made Mangku Pastika.

As reported by Bali Post, the LED TV has been beset with problems from its earliest days. When it first installed by the provincial government, the Badung regional government initially threatened to demolish the sign because it lacked proper permits and permissions. Tensions were high at the time as regional officials confiscated the tools of the installation crew, complaining the information sign was also a traffic hazard and unnecessarily destroyed a roadside public roadside garden area.

Some time later, the LED sign was back in the news when it was accused in the media of deviating from its public service role by broadcasting "hidden" advertisements.

Now, in a continuing saga of trouble and strife, the Anti-Corruption Agency (BPK) has declared the LED project was illegally "marked up" and ordered a Rp. 4.6 billion (US$511,000) over-payments be returned to State revenues.

The provincial administration of Bali has rebutted BPK's accusations of Rp. 4.6 billion in illegal mark-ups, insisting an internal follow-up investigation by provincial auditors revealed that over-payments amounted to no more than Rp. 730 million (US$ 81,000) -an amount that was subsequently repaid to the provincial coffers.

Meanwhile, the BPK is said to be holding fast, demanding a full repayment of the Rp. 4.6 billion overpayment.