Wed, 23 Aug 2000

Unemployment programs need coordination

JAKARTA (JP): After three years of social safety net programs, unemployment in the country is a staggering 37 million and rising, a minister said.

Last year's number stood at 36 million.

Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare and Poverty Eradication Basri Hasanuddin admitted that the existing programs for unemployment eradication were inadequate.

"The program has not worked due to lack of coordination," he told reporters at his office on Tuesday.

"That's why today we're holding a meeting with related parties, like officials from ministry of manpower, ministry of home affairs and ministry of settlement and regional development," he added.

The meeting, Basri said, was aimed at formulating joint policies to develop and extend employment, and to formulate an integrated and coordinated program to eradicate unemployment across the country, a home to 210 million people.

According to Ministry of Manpower's Director General of Manpower Placement and Development Tjepy F. Aloewie, several ministries have already have good programs.

"The target is to implement the programs together with good coordination, especially in the regions. The programs have to absorb a lot of workers," Tjepy said. He added that programs like agriculture mechanization only absorb a few workers.

Also included in the programs to cope with unemployment is assisting workers going overseas, despite opposition from several nongovernmental organizations and State Minister for Women Empowerment Khofifah Indar Parawansa, demanding that labor export be stopped due to many cases of human rights violations.

Tjepy said so far, there were no plans to ban labor export activities.

"We think it doesn't need to be stopped, but the system has to be fixed," he said. (09)