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Two thirds of West Java residents need COVID-19 aid amid policy 'injustice', governor says

Jakarta Post - May 9, 2020

Jakarta – The COVID-19 economic downturn has caused two thirds of West Java residents to need assistance, governor Ridwan Kamil has said, while criticizing the central government for mistaken calculations in aid policy.

During a recent webinar held by the West Java Development Institute, Ridwan pointed out that the number of residents in need of aid had increased to 38 million from the initial 9.4 million, with the majority living in the southern part of the province.

"So, ladies and gentlemen, about two thirds of people in West Java are asking for support from the government at the moment," Ridwan said in the online discussion as quoted by Antara on Thursday.

Ridwan said the central government had the wrong perspective on aid policy; it had allocated budgets based on the number of regions in a province, not on the size of its population.

As a result, he said, the funds allocated for West Java – with a population of more than 49 million, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) – such as the village funds, were less than those for other provinces with smaller populations, thereby impeding relief efforts.

"There is fiscal injustice in the way the central government is providing funds to the regions. The size of the population is never used as a benchmark. [West Java] really felt [the impact] when COVID-19 hit," he said.

During the discussion, Ridwan called for solidarity and sensitivity to ensure mutual support during the economic crisis. He asked the community to embrace the spirit of Ramadan to do charitable work.

"We can change the narrative of social emergency to social solidarity. Moreover, this is the month of Ramadan, the month of blessings, the month of support," he said.

The West Java administration has been conducting 2,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests daily in 15 laboratories and is prioritizing testing in crowded places, such as traditional markets.

Ridwan said the number patients being treated for COVID-19 at hospitals in the province – the second hardest hit after Jakarta – had decreased to about 300 in the first week of May from about 400 at the end of April. He said the number of recoveries had doubled.

As of Friday, West Java had confirmed 1,404 cases with 92 fatalities, according to the central government's count.

"We hope this positive trend can be maintained," he said. (syk)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/05/09/two-thirds-of-west-java-residents-need-covid-19-aid-amid-policy-injustice-governor-says.html