Jakarta – The government said it was ready to disburse Rp 38 trillion (US$2.3 billion) for social safety net programs to help about 70 million underprivileged citizens cope with the financial impacts of COVID-19.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the ministry planned to disburse additional funds for COVID-19 through the Family Hope Program (PKH) or the Staple Food Card. In 2019, the government distributed aid through the Family Hope Program to 10 million families.
The government is mulling over several ways to disburse the money. First, it is considering two options for the Family Hope Program: Increase the recipients of the program or cards to around 15 million from 10 million families without increasing the value of the benefit, or increase the value but keep it at 10 million families.
"We will make the decision soon," Sri Mulyani said during a broadcast press conference on Friday.
Assuming that an Indonesian family typically has five members, Sri Mulyani said the new disbursement would allow 50 million people to receive money to cushion them from the impact of COVID-19.
The minister said the government was also open to disbursing the aid through the Staple Food Card in addition to the Family Hope Program.
According to the Social Affairs Ministry website, Indonesia disbursed Rp 32.65 trillion to 10 million families last year through the Family Hope Program. Each family received a base benefit of Rp 550,000 per year and added benefits depending on the family's situation such as an additional Rp 2 million if there is a high school student in the family.
The government also has a free rice program that has more beneficiaries. Last year, it distributed free rice to 15.5 million families. Combined, all the social safety net programs helped about 70 million underprivileged people in the country, Sri Mulyani said.
According to a World Bank report titled Aspiring Indonesia, only one out of five Indonesians is economically secure, which means around 24.8 million or 9.22 percent of the population lives on under US$1 a day and over 60 million are vulnerable to dropping into poverty. (eyc)