Sabtu, 21 Juli 2018

POVERTY REMAINS CHALLENGE FOR INDONESIA by Fardah

  Jakarta, July 21, 2018 (Antara) -The Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) recently spread the good news that the poverty rate in Indonesia has dropped to the lowest compared to the ratios in the earlier periods. 
       The number of people living below the poverty line has dropped to 25.95 million, or 9.82 percent of the population, in March 2018 from 27.77 million, or 10.64 percent of the population, a year earlier.
         BPS head Suhariyanto told reporters in Jakarta on July 16, 2018, that nationally, the number of people categorized as poor in March 2018 dropped 1.82 million from a year earlier.
         The success in the drop in poverty rate was thanks to all priority programs of the government, such as infrastructure development for better connectivity; village funds; improvement in logistics distribution; and several social allowances for health, family welfare, and education, among others.
        Social Affairs Minister Idrus Marham lauded the achievement and was convinced that it was due to the successful government programs.
         "It indicates that the government programs, such as KIP (Indonesian Smart Card (KIP), Indonesia¿s Health Card (KIS), Family Hope Program, Joint Business Group (Kube), and social insurances (BPJS), have worked,¿ the minister remarked.
          He is optimistic that the poverty rate will decrease further to nine percent, lower than the poverty reduction target set by the President Joko Widodo Administration, which is at one digit, by the end of his administration.
         However, despite the success, Widodo reminded the citizens that poverty reduction and social gap cut are still challenges and homework that need to be dealt with.
        "Again, I reiterate that social gap and poverty remain our common challenges,¿ he added.
         The head of state expressed concern over the social gap and wealth disparity between western and eastern Indonesian regions.
         He believed that infrastructure development could become a solution to inequality between the country¿s eastern and western regions.
          "Infrastructure is crucial, and once again it is not merely related to economic matters. As a huge country with 17 thousand islands, Indonesia needs seaports, airports, and roads, including toll roads. We can deliver unity and equality from west until east and from north until south," he explained.  
      Basically, the percentage of people living in poverty in the eastern part of Indonesia in March 2018 was still higher than that of the western part.
             "It (the poverty rate) mostly fell, but it remains a major homework in the eastern part of Indonesia, as the percentage of its poor people is far higher than that of the western part," BPS Chief Suhariyanto pointed out.
            Sharing the president¿s view, Suhariyanto believed that several infrastructure projects being implemented in the eastern part of Indonesia would help reduce the number of people living in poverty there.
          Meanwhile, National Development Planning Minister, who is concurrently the Head of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), Bambang Brodjonegoro, emphasized the importance of manageable inflation to reduce the poverty rate.
         "The key factor to reducing the poverty rate is the government's intervention. However, there is still one important aspect needed to manage the inflation rate. It is not 100 percent dependent on the government, but there are several factors involved," Brodjonegoro explained.
        He remarked that a high inflation rate will make the increase in income worthless.
            "Hence, it is crucial for us to maintain the inflation rate," he explained.
            According to data of the Central Statistic Agency (BPS), food commodities that have a significant impact on the poverty rate in rural and urban areas are rice, cigarettes, eggs, chicken, instant noodles, and sugar.
            Non-edible commodities that have a significant impact on the poverty rate are housing, fuel oil, electricity, education, and toiletries.
            "Rice has a 27 percent contribution (to the poverty rate). It means that the price of rice should not be increased," the minister stated.
            Cigarettes have a 10.21 percent impact on the poverty rate. Any increase in the price of the commodity would have a significant impact on the poverty rate.
            "However, it does not mean that we could not increase the price of cigarettes. Their consumption must be reduced," he noted.
            The impact of cigarettes on the poverty rate is higher than those of the housing sector, fuel oil, sugar, instant noodles, chicken, and eggs.
           "It is a big task to create public awareness in Indonesia, in order to reduce (cigarette) consumption, which is not only unproductive but also unhealthy," Brodjonegoro noted here on Thursday.
            He elaborated that if smokers would spend money to buy cigarettes, they would have to spend more money for tobacco-related health problems in the longer term.
            "The national health insurance (the healthcare BPJS) would also become another victim. The more the money people spend on cigarettes, the more funds BPJS would have to spend for their healthcare costs," the minister explained.
            According to Brodjonegoro, one concrete move to reduce cigarette consumption is to increase its price. ***4***
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