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Prabowo to prioritize free lunch program once in office

Jakarta Post - February 20, 2024

Jakarta – A senior member of the Prabowo Subianto campaign has said that soon after his inauguration as president, the former general would prioritize the distribution of free lunch and milk to students.

Former lawmaker Budiman Sudjatmiko said the team had started trialing the two programs in several locations including Sukabumi, West Java.

"We're serious about this plan. These programs need the thorough planning we did in advance, and we have started working on [implementing] it," said Budiman, who was ousted as a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) after he threw his weight behind the Prabowo campaign.

He said the programs' trial run in Sukabumi was designed to involve a local restaurant as a single "vendor" to prepare meals for 16 students at each beneficiary school, adding that a total of 3,500 students were currently benefiting from the free lunch and free milk pilots.

Drajad Wibowo, another senior member of the Prabowo team, said separately that the free lunch program would target at least 80 million students across the country.

He also said the two programs would not be funded by the state budget, and would certainly not draw on allocations for energy subsidies.

"These programs will be paid for with new funding sources [...] that have not been collected by the government thus far," Drajad said, as quoted by Bisnis Indonesia on Monday.

Prabowo campaign vice chair Eddy Soeparno said last week that the incumbent defense minister had been advised to improve budgeting so it was more efficient and provided room for spending priorities. He added, however, that Prabowo had not made a decision on the sensitive issue of adjusting energy subsidies.

Eddy said it was suggested that Prabowo review the costly fuel subsidies that reached Rp 500 trillion (US$32 billion) last year to ensure only the poor would benefit from his free school lunch and milk programs, but it was unclear what he would do, Reuters reported.

Prabowo's signature programs could cost the government Rp 450 trillion per year, according to his team's estimates.

Budisatrio Djiwandono, Prabowo's nephew and campaign team member, clarified on Friday that the program would be implemented in stages until it reached its target of 82 million schoolchildren by 2029.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/business/2024/02/20/prabowo-to-prioritize-free-lunch-program-once-in-office.htm