Sat, 09 Dec 2000

Community empowerment program to help the poor

JAKARTA (JP): The Ministry of Settlement and Regional Infrastructure is running a community empowerment program involving 5,147 villages in 17 provinces outside Java using funds allocated from the cut fuel subsidy which amounts to Rp 250 billion, said its minister Erna Witoelar.

"Since we started the program in October, a total of 1,130 villages in 86 districts have received some Rp 75 billion," Erna said in a statement on Friday.

The program is designed to assist the poor and build decent infrastructures for their villages.

The massive recovery project, expected to be completed in March 2001, will involve 5,147 villages in 255 districts and 64 regencies in 17 provinces outside Java.

"We expect, by the end of this month, to have covered 186 districts and disbursed Rp 184 billion," Erna said.

The program, however, have not yet started in Aceh province, which have been allocated Rp 37.4 billion for its seven regencies and 44 districts, since the area has just been hit by floods and landslides, Erna said.

"We will give priority to the eastern regions of Indonesia. Every village would receive between Rp 50 million and Rp 70 million. Each district will receive between Rp 870 million and Rp 1 billion," a ministry staffer, Rubini Yusuf, said.

In a bid to avoid possible misuse of the funds, the proposals for rebuilding or improving the village would come from the people and community welfare organizations.

"Each village community will decide for itself whether they need road repairs, a bridge, a port, clean water, schools, a community health center or a dam, as only they know their needs.

"The government will only provide the funds and conduct joint supervisions with local communities at every level of administration," she said.

"The community will also decide the wages to given to the workers, usually based on the minimum wage in each region. The wages would also depend on the kind of work being done, whether it is a project, repair or construction work," she said.

Erna also said the scheme should run effectively.

"We are in no hurry to disburse the funds. If the funds are not completely used in three months, we will allot the unused funds for the next fiscal year. Now is not the time to waste money," she added.

Besides Erna's office, the other two ministries involved in the using of the Rp 800 billion unspent fuel subsidy from October to December this year are the Ministry of Home Affairs and Regional Autonomy and the State Ministry for Cooperatives and Small/Medium Enterprises.

The fund was gained from a 12 percent drop in fuel subsidy from Rp 44 trillion to Rp 43.2 trillion this fiscal year. (edt)