Assessing budgetary management of local government in Aceh, Indonesia
This interpretive case-based study explores issues of budgetary management in Aceh provincial government. Until 2018, Aceh showed significant problems in its budget cycle with the budget being approved late every year except 2014. Thus, this study aims to investigate the reasons for these delays, along with their impacts on budget execution. Further, as Aceh is a predominantly Muslim society with Islamic values and principles fundamental to its culture and identity, this study also explores whether Islamic teachings are well-embedded in its government budgeting. To investigate these issues, I gathered written materials related to the budgeting process and conducted 19 interviews with local government officials, politicians, Muslim scholars, and a corruption watchdog, analysing these through three linked accountability frameworks: considering accountability through relationship, responsibility, and answerability dimensions, Boltanski and Thévenot’s (1999) Sociology of Worth (SoW) framework, and Islamic accountability. I found the key reasons for the budget delays were miscommunications and heated debates in budget discussions between Aceh’s legislature and executive government resulting from conflicts of interest and priorities. The budget delays negatively affected budget execution, which, since Aceh’s economy depends heavily on government spending, reduced economic activity and so the social welfare of its people. Given the problems in its budgetary management, including budget delays, conflicting interests, and lack of transparency, the implementation of Islamic principles and values in Aceh’s government budgeting remains unsatisfactory. This study offers several contributions to the literature and practice: (i) it generates new ideas for the classification of SoW’s orders of worth when applied to public budgeting and accountability in a devout Muslim society; (ii) it outlines some challenges in implementing Islamic principles and values into government budgeting; and (iii) it notes some potential improvements for Aceh provincial government to achieve better budgetary management and accountability.