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Indonesian Poverty Falls Slightly, as Revamp on Program Urged

Jakarta. The number of Indonesia’s poor fell slightly in September last year, despite low commodity prices and rising minimum wages, signaling a pressing need for the government to revamp its poverty alleviation program.

The number of poor fell to 27.73 million people, or 10.9 percent of the country’s total population as of Sept. 30, from 28.55 million, or 11.47 percent, in September 2013, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) said last week. The number of poor in March 2014 was 28.6 million.

BPS conducts its poverty survey twice a year, in March and September, to show the different effects of temporary jobs availability during the peak harvest season, which is usually between March and April. The agency defines being poor as living on less than Rp 312,328 ($25) a month.

The slight drop in the poverty number suggests that the government needs to do an overhaul of its poverty alleviation program, some economists say.

“Cash transfer, solely for alleviating poverty, would not be effective,” said Enny Sri Hartati, an economist from the Institute of Developing for Economic and Finance (Indef).

“The poor need more access to financing, they need help with their small business, access to seeds and a more supportive commerce system,” she said.

Enny expects the number of poor to rise in March this year, following increases on the price of goods after the government raised subsidized fuel prices in November.

Source: www.thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com, Monday 5 January 2015