Sat, 29 Mar 2003

Regions to draw up poverty alleviation program

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

As part of efforts to intensify poverty alleviation, the government would leave it to regional administrations to draw up policies to reduce poverty in their respective area.

"Given that the characteristics and potency of each region varies, it is they (the regional administrations) who know best how to create strategies to alleviate poverty (in their areas) based on their own potency.

"The central government will focus its support in the form of consultancy. We shall facilitate regions to do what is necessary for their respective regions," a press release said.

The release was drawn up from a joint statement issued after the completion of a national meeting on poverty eradication held on March 25-27 in Yogyakarta, a copy of which was made available to The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

The meeting was organized by Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Jusuf Kalla, who is the chairman of the national Poverty Alleviation Committee, and was attended by, among others, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti, Bank Indonesia governor Sjahril Sabirin and Minister of Finance Boediono.

The release said that by allowing the regions to draw up their own poverty alleviation programs, the government hoped the pace of poverty alleviation in the country, which was considered too slow over the past years, could be sped up.

The centralized policy on the matter is widely believed to have contributed to the mediocre performance, as the policy set by the central government did not fit for all regions as each has unique characteristics.

Currently, the country's poverty rate stands at around 18 percent, far better than the around 24 percent of the population in 1998 when the country was hit hard by the devastating financial crisis.

Under the country's five-year economic guidelines (Propenas), the government has targeted reducing the poverty rate to 14 percent by 2004.

Analysts have said the government should boost economic growth to help reduce poverty.

They said the country's economy should grow more than 3 percent to 4 percent annually to absorb an estimated 2.5 million people entering the job market each year. Thus, high economic growth will reduce poverty.

Indonesia's poverty trend

from 1999 to 2002


------------------------------------------------------ Poverty rate by region 1999 2002* ------------------------------------------------------

- Java-Bali 27.9 15.1

- Sumatra (excpt. Aceh) 20.1 14.7

- Kalimantan 22.9 14.0

- Sulawesi 25.1 18.1

- Eastern Indonesia

(exc. Maluku, Papua) 51.4 36.8 ------------------------------------------------------- * Preliminary figures Source: World Bank