Jakarta. Indonesia’s 72nd Independence Day celebration on Thursday (17/08) marks another year in the country’s pursuit to provide social justice to its population of more than 260 million people.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, addressing members of the House of Representatives in Jakarta on Wednesday, said his administration is focused on eradicating poverty, providing job opportunities to the disenfranchised and building up basic infrastructure in the far remote regions of the archipelago.
“We want the people of Indonesia who are living in the borderlands, in the farthest islands, in the isolated regions, to feel the presence of the country, the proceeds of development and to be proud to be part of the Republic of Indonesia,” the president said.
Still, data shows that improvements have been slow and the stark gap between the rich and poor remains.
According to the Indonesia Statistics Agency (BPS), the country’s Gini ratio — which measures the degree of inequality in income distribution — stood at 0.393 in March this year, an improvement compared to September’s 0.394 and March’s 0.397 a year earlier. A lower figure reflects decreasing inequality.
Despite the improvement, the number of people living below the poverty line remains notable and represents 10.64 percent of the estimated 260 million population.
Jokowi’s administration has pushed infrastructure developments, including toll roads, railways, public transportation, electricity, power plants and dams in a bid to spur economic growth and accelerate development in other sectors.
The government allocated more than Rp 387 trillion ($28.9 billion), or about 18 percent of the state budget, to expedite infrastructure development.
The government also unveiled the single-priced fuel initiative to benefit people living in remote areas where fuel prices are exponentially more expensive than on Java due to the country’s poor distribution network. Last year, the program reached Papua.
Jokowi said his administration is working to make living costs fairer for those living in the eastern part of the country, like Papua , where residents could spend up to Rp 60,000 per liter for gasoline.
He also acknowledged that state-run energy company Pertamina could suffer as much as Rp 800 billion in losses due to his single-price policy, but he insisted that the move is a part of providing social justice for everyone in the country.
Mochtar Riady, chairman and founder of Lippo Group, said he is concerned about the nation’s poverty level and inequality.
“Seeing this truth, I feel my duty has yet to be finished. I want to give a contribution to the state and nation to eradicate poverty while reducing social inequality,” he said.
Mochtar, whose Lippo Group runs a cradle-to-grave business empire, said the economic development needs to be focused on agriculture, industry and trade sectors as most of the country’s residents work in the agriculture sector.
“Our farmers sold their products at a cheaper price and bought factory-made goods at a more expensive price. This is one of the sources of poverty,” he said.
Mochtar offered a simple solution by selling the farmers’ products online to cut the role of middlemen. Still, participating in e-commerce sector needs a reliable telecommunication system, payment system, an escrow to guarantee both sellers and customers, as well as a reliable logistics network, he added.
“I want to fully participate in improving farmer’s welfare by helping to build and implement e-commerce.”
The Jakarta Globe is affiliated with the Lippo Group.