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Amid flood of government social aid, Jokowi accused of transactional politics

Kompas.com - February 1, 2024

Aryo Putranto Saptohutomo, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's policy of handing out a flood of various types of social aid (bansos) is seen as being a form of transactional politics and linked to his electoral agenda.

As is known, Widodo's eldest son, Solo Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka, has paired up with presidential candidate number 2, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, as his vice presidential running mate.

According to public policy observer and executive director of the Jakarta based non-government organisation think tank PRAKARSA, Ah Maftuchan, President Widodo appears to be using social aid in the form of rice and money to gain sympathy and get compensation from the people.

"The practice of distributing social aid directly by the president in various regions has confirmed that President Jokowi is practicing 'clientelism' politics, namely a system of practical politics based on exchange or transactional relations", said Maftuchan when contacted on Wednesday January 31.

According to Maftuchan, Widodo's handing out of social aid directly to the people means he hopes the public will provide compensation in the form of political support for his electoral political agenda.

"As we clearly know, President Jokowi is campaigning for the Prabowo-Gibran presidential and vice presidential ticket", said Maftuchan.

According to Maftuchan, the political practice of clientelism has a negative impact because it threatens the substance of democracy as well as the fulfillment of citizens' basic rights.

"Good political practice is for the government to guarantee the fulfillment of citizens' basic rights without looking at their political aspirations. Citizens' basic rights must be fulfilled by the government and must not be politicised", said Maftuchan.

Earlier it was reported that the government is continuing to provide various types of social aid or social protection (perlinsos) to the public.

One of the things that is of concern is the size of the social aid budget in 2024 that is as much as 496 trillion rupiah, which is 12.4 percent higher than last year when it reached 439.1 trillion rupiah. The social aid budget gradually decreased in 2021 to 468.2 trillion rupiah and then to 460.6 trillion rupiah in 2022.

The social aid provided by the government starting in early 2024 consists of various types. The first is El Nino Direct Cash Assistance (BLT), which according to Widodo is intended to boost people's purchasing power. El Nino BLT is being given to 18.8 million beneficiary families (KPM) with a value 400,000 rupiah for each recipient.

Another kid of social aid is rice assistance of 10 kilograms for each KPM. The government has been distributing rice aid since April 2023 and is planning to continue distribution until June this year.

The government also launched the Family Hope Program (PKH) in 2024 which is distributed in four stages. Phase 1 of the PKH will be carried out in January-March, then Phase 2 and 3 in April-June and July-October, then Phase 4 in October-December.

The PKH amounts vary. Toddlers and new mothers receive a maximum of 3 million rupiah per year. Primary school, junior high school and senior high school students are given assistance of 900,000 to 2 million rupiah per year. Meanwhile, seniors aged over 70 years and people with disabilities are given a maximum assistance of 2.4 million rupiah per year.

The Widodo administration is also providing non-cash food assistance (BPNT) for families in the lowest 25 percent socio-economic group in the implemented areas. BPNT is in the form of 200,000 rupiah worth of food per month which is distributed every two months.

The government has also allocated social assistance in the form of the Smart Indonesia Program (PIP) in 2024, which is managed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology. PIP social assistance takes the form of financial assistance for 18.59 million primary, secondary, senior and vocational school students throughout Indonesia.

In the latest program, Widodo plans to roll out food risk mitigation BLT for 18.8 million KPM. Each KPM will receive 600,000 rupiah in assistance for three months, namely from January to March.

Because the plan to provide food risk mitigation BLT was only submitted at the end of January, the distribution is targeted to start in early February.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani has stated that the government had budgeted 11.25 trillion rupiah for food risk mitigation BLT. She said that the entire social aid budget has been included in the 2024 state budget (APBN).

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Banjir Bansos Pemerintah, Jokowi Dianggap Mainkan Politik Transaksional".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2024/02/01/06000041/banjir-bansos-pemerintah-jokowi-dianggap-mainkan-politik-transaksiona