The program of reform in Indonesia, set in train in 1998, gave rise to demands that principles of good governance should be the basis of government in Indonesia. Various groups were also urging that public budgets should be the principal government instrument for enhancing public welfare. Thus it was that in September 1999, in order to better represent these public expectations, the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA) was formed, with public budgeting front and center in its efforts to foster good governance in Indonesia.
In order to guarantee that budget policies are pro-people and based on principles of public accountability and participation, a key element of the struggle to improve public budgeting must be a demand for budget transparency. Thus, from the outset, FITRA’s principal focus has been to demand respect for the people’s right to be involved throughout the entire budgetary process (from formulation through discussion and implementation to evaluation). FITRA’s aim has been to work with every layer of civil society to develop a groundswell of support for budget transparency and the establishment of budgetary processes focused on public welfare and social justice. Thus the purpose of FITRA’s campaign for budget transparency is no less than achievement of people’s economic, social, political and cultural rights.
Having set itself such an agenda, FITRA’s has aimed to ensure that no policy maker and no decision maker with the capacity to curtail budget transparency or damage resources that give Indonesians their livelihood—be they at the national level, at the United Nations, within international organizations & financial institutions, in multinational corporations or anywhere else—should be left in any doubt that it is ordinary Indonesians who have sovereignty over public budgeting in Indonesia and over the resources that give Indonesians their livelihood.
Since its establishment FITRA has been a budget transparency movement committed to strengthening its support base and broadening its network of member organizations in regions. These efforts have had a positive impact on community awareness, at the grassroots level, of the importance of exercising control, and realizing popular sovereignty, over public budgeting.
At the beginning FITRA had a presence at the national level in Jakarta in the form a National Secretariat (Seknas) and a number of network units at the kabupaten (district) and city level. Following decisions taken at its 2008 National Conference, moves were made to establish network units at the provincial level as well; that action has broadened the scope for advocacy on budgets at the level of provincial governments as well as within sub-provincial city/kabupaten governments.