Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has appointed Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture (PMK) Muhadjir Effendy as acting Minister of Social Affairs to replace Juliari Peter Batubara who was named a suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) over a bribery case concerning social assistance for people affected by COVID-19 impact.

"For the time being I will appoint the Coordinating Minister to carry out the duties of the Minister of Social Affairs," Jokowi said at the Bogor Presidential Palace, West Java, on Sunday.

The anti-graft agency named Batubara a suspect for allegedly accepting bribes worth Rp17 billion as "fee" for procurement of basic food under a social assistance program for people affected by COVID-19 impact in Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi) area.

KPK Chairman Firli Bahuri said the Ministry of Social Affairs in 2020 was tasked to procure basic food packages worth Rp5.9 trillion under a total of of 272 procurement contracts of the social assistance program carried in two period, for those affected by the COVID-19 impact.

During the first period of the social assistance program implementation, a fee amounting Rp12 billion was received, and Rp8.2 billion of it was given to Batubara by Matheus Joko Santoso, the ministry's Head of Sub-Directorate for Social and Political Disaster Victim Management concurrently the Social Assistance Commitment Making Officer (PPK) , via Adi Wahyono, the ministry's General Affairs Bureau Head concurrently PPK.

The money was then managed by Eko and Shelvy N, Batubara's trusted people, to be used to pay for the minister's personal needs.

In the second period of the implementation of the basic food assistance program, 'fee' amounting Rp8.8 billion was collected from October 2020 to December 2020. The money was also allegedly used for Batubara's personal needs.

Hence, the total bribe that Juliari Batubara allegedly received was worth Rp17 billion.

On Nov 25, 2020, KPK detained Minister for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Edhy Prabowo and four other suspects over an alleged bribery case in permit issuance for aquaculture and/or fishing businesses and marine commodities in 2020.

President Jokowi appointed Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo (and previously Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan) as acting Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister.

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Translator: Desca LN, Fardah
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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