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Gibran Rakabuming responds to World Bank warning on free lunch program

Tempo - February 29, 2024

Rizki Dewi Ayu, Antara, Jakarta – The World Bank warned Indonesia to be careful about the budget deficit threshold if the free lunch program initiated by Prabowo-Gibran is implemented.

World Bank Representative for Indonesia and Timor-Leste Satu Kahkonen believed that the free lunch program should be prepared thoroughly, especially regarding the budget. The program, she said, could have an impact on the Indonesian economy.

According to Kahkonen, the government must first clearly define the form and objectives of the program, and then compare them with currently available resources.

"It depends on what kind of program will be implemented and what form it will take. All plans and costs must be prepared thoroughly," said Satu Kahkonen on Tuesday, February 27, 2024.

As a representative of the World Bank, Satu Kahkonen is currently still awaiting further details of the free lunch program from the Indonesian government. The details of the free lunch program have been discussed in the 2025 Macroeconomic Policy and Fiscal Policy Principles (KEM-PPKF) discussion.

"We are still awaiting (details of the Free Lunch Program). Hopefully, Indonesia can adhere to the specified upper limit of fiscal deficit, which is 3 percent of GDP as stipulated in the law," she said.

Gibran Rakabuming Raka's response

Responding to the warning, Gibran Rakabuming thanked the World Bank for the input provided. Gibran admitted that he had discussed the program, but could not reveal it to the public at this time.

"Thank you for the evaluation, we will follow up on this. We want this program to continue," said Gibran at Solo City Hall, on Wednesday.

Additionally, President Joko Widodo's eldest son also admitted that he would calculate the budget of the program to avoid a fiscal deficit.

"We will discuss it later if there is input from the community," he said. "(State Budget deficit) will be discussed again later."

The free lunch program is a priority program promoted by running presidential pair number 2, Prabowo Subianto-Gibran Rakabuming Raka.

In their vision and mission, the pair explained that this program aims to overcome the problem of stunting and will cover preschool, elementary school (SD), junior high school (SMP), senior high school (SMA), and Islamic boarding school students.

Nutritional assistance will also be provided to pregnant people and toddlers throughout Indonesia to improve health and support the family economy. This program aims to reach more than 80 million beneficiaries with 100 percent coverage by 2029.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1839322/gibran-rakabuming-responds-to-world-bank-warning-on-free-lunch-progra