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President Jokowi denies politicising social assistance

Jakarta Post - February 6, 2024

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo denied allegations he has politicized social assistance (bansos) in a bid to support his eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who is the running mate for presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto in the upcoming presidential election.

Speaking after an event in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, on Friday, Jokowi asserted that the social assistance program and the necessary budget needed to be approved by the House of Representatives and that the process has been ongoing since September of last year.

"Don't think our decisions are made independently, that's not how the state mechanism works," Jokowi said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Over the last few weeks, Jokowi has been actively participating in the distribution of social assistance during his work visits to various regions.

Two ongoing social assistance programs are being implemented by Jokowi, the government rice reserves (CBP) and direct cash assistance (BLT) for food risk mitigation.

Jokowi said that there were two considerations for providing social assistance: the global rise in rice prices and enhancing the purchasing power of the low-income population.

"The rice aid has been in place since September. The BLT [was distributed] due to the prolonged dry season caused by El Nino, so this is also to strengthen the purchasing power of the community," said Jokowi, as quoted by tempo.co.

Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto announced the continuation of the BLT program on Jan. 29, starting this month to replace the previous El Nino aid that ended in December.

Initially, the new BLT, worth Rp 200,000 (US$12.80) per month for each beneficiary, was planned to last for three months from January to March. However, the government decided to disburse the cash aid all at once in February, coinciding with the 2024 general election.

Political and civil groups have repeatedly raised concerns about Jokowi's actions, saying they were done to garner support for Prabowo and Gibran's election bid.

Aside from distributing social assistance, Jokowi's neutrality as President also came into question when he made a statement saying that the President was allowed to pick sides during elections.

Source: https://asianews.network/president-jokowi-denies-politicising-social-assistance