Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – The government aims to complete the disbursement of the BLT Dana Desa (village funds unconditional cash transfers) to around 8 million families this week, as a part of its efforts to protect households at greater risk of falling into poverty amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Minister Abdul Halim Iskandar said on Tuesday that 73 percent of the total 74,953 villages in the country had channeled some Rp 3.48 trillion (US$242 million) in cash assistance to around 5.8 million families so far.
The remaining 27 percent of villages, on the other hand, had yet to distribute the money because of, among other reasons, the sluggish process of data synchronization at the upper administration level. The minister has therefore instructed the villages simply to disburse the money to the families they had already identified to expedite the process.
"I've instructed the villages to rapidly channel the funding, and subsequently submit the data on the beneficiaries to cities or regencies," Abdul said.
The central government estimates that 3 million to 5.23 million Indonesians may lose their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, while some 1.89 million to 4.89 million people may fall below the poverty line as the health crisis brings economic activity to a standstill.
It plans to increase spending on village fund cash assistance to Rp 31.8 trillion after previously allocating Rp 21.2 trillion.
The government will provide Rp 600,000 per month for three months to families that meet certain criteria, such as having a family member who has lost their job and not having received assistance via the Family Hope Program (PKH) or the staple-food card program. An additional Rp 300,000 may be provided to families for another three months.