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Govt urged to ensure social assistance programs to be able to reduce people's economic pressure

Tempo - March 18, 2024

Antara, Jakarta – Chairperson of the House Budget Committee Said Abdullah has urged the government to ensure that its social assistance programs can reduce people's economic pressure as the prices of several staple goods remain high.

"For poor and very poor households, the government must ensure that all social assistance programs are accessible to them because the rising prices of staple goods will make them more difficult. Thus, the government's social assistance programs can hopefully reduce their economic pressure," he said on Sunday.

According to him, the current rice price at international market is still high, namely US$17.8 per quintal. It is lower than February 2024, whose price was recorded at US$19 per quintal. Compared to the rice prices in 2022 and 2023, it is still higher.

Likewise, sugar price is still at US$22 per pound, higher than last year's average of around US$18 to US$22 per pound.

Several other staple goods, such as corn, soybeans, wheat, and meat at the international market are showing a downward trend.

He assessed that this trend must be optimized by the government to secure domestic supplies as a rising trend in staple good prices is observed in the holy fasting month of Ramadan and ahead of Eid al-Fitr holiday season.

"If in the short term, the availability of domestic supplies cannot be met in the country, there is no other choice but to import. But, the import scheme must be changed from quota scheme to tariff, to secure import activities from rent-seeking," he remarked.

He also assessed that the government needs to carry out big-scale market operations to prevent a decline in the people's purchasing power.

ANTARA reported earlier that the National Food Agency (Bapanas) would distribute rice assistance to 22 million beneficiary families in 2024.

In addition to the rice assistance, Bapanas is also distributing assistance to 1.4 million families that are at risk of stunting.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1846330/govt-urged-to-ensure-social-assistance-programs-to-be-able-to-reduce-peoples-economic-pressur