Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management Accounting Research

Beyond Ceremony: The Impact of Local Wisdom on Public Participation in Local Government Budgeting

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management Accounting Research

Beyond Ceremony: The Impact of Local Wisdom on Public Participation in Local Government Budgeting

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper reveals that public participation in local government budgeting can be practiced fully by the people, and not merely a ceremonial process as shown by earlier literature on such processes. Prior research has focused on the district level and found that participation in local government budgeting is still assumed to be merely a formality, done as part of a required ceremony to fulfil certain local government obligations. However, at the micro-community level, this paper shows that public participation is truly holistic, and practiced beyond mere ceremonial formalities. This research was of the Tenggeresse people, an aboriginal community at Bromo Mountain, East Java, Indonesia. An interpretive paradigm with an ethnomethodology approach was employed to reveal the existence of local values of Tenggeresse when participating in local budgeting; centring around being peaceful and looking after the welfare of others. These values of local wisdom are internalised in the planning, implementation and transparent responsibility aspects of public participation in local government budgeting.

Key Words

Public Participation

Local Budgeting

Local Government

Local Wisdom

Musrenbang

Ethnomethodology

Introduction

Public participation is the participation in the planning, implementation and accountability processes of local community development. Achmadi, Muslim, Rusmiyati and Wibisono (2002) and Sisk (2002) explain that participation and autonomy are the keys to success in the implementation of any local project since this participation deals with the supervision and aspiration aspects of the local community.

In Indonesia, the requirement of the law on local autonomy requires public participation in order to reinforce the budget supervision (Sopanah, 2004). In the 2004 Law no. 25 on System of the National Development Planning, the mechanism of participation in budgeting has been regulated and clarified in the 2002 Decision of the Minister of Domestic Affairs no. 29, which has been revised into the 2006 Regulation of the Minister of Domestic Affairs no. 13. The main point of the above three regulations is that there is a mechanism of public participation in the local budgeting process.

The literature on public (people) participation in budgeting states that, ideally, such participation should be at all stages of the budgeting cycle; from planning to implementation to accountability and responsibility (Mardiasmo, 2002). However, field studies show that although public participation in the development and the planning of the local budgets is assumed to be very important, actual true public participation is very low (Cooper and Elliot, 2000, Layzer, 2002, Navaro, 2002, Laurian, 2004). For example, Laurian (2004) found low attendance in various public meetings. Although public meetings are considered to be less effective as a rational tool of persuasion, they still play a role in maintaining the system of local democracy. The results of Laurian and Adams (2004) research are in line with those made by Sopanah (2003); Sopanah, Wahyudi and Azmi (2004) and Sopanah and Wahyudi (2005a; 2005b). In fact, Sopanah (2012) found that participation in local government budgeting is still assumed to be merely a formality, done as part of a required ceremony to fulfil certain local government obligations.

This research was inspired by Sumarto (2004); who states that non-formal mechanisms that come from public innovative initiatives is more effective than formal mechanisms of public participation (termed Musrenbang in Indonesia) (see Waidl, Sudjito and Bahagijo, 2008). The inspiration of this research also comes from Muluk (2007) who concludes that adopting a system-thinking approach resulted in successful public participation in local governments that brought about improvements in the reformation era. These improvement however have followed the S curve pattern, meaning that there is an improvement in the preliminary stages of the reformation, but gradually the improvement slowed and became stagnant. …

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