"Everybody agrees with building infrastructure, but economic development is not only infrastructure . In addition to macro aspect, there are micro aspect in large scale. The purchasing power of the people need to be improved," dean of Islamic Economic and Business Faculty of State run National Islamic Institute (IAIN) of Purwokerto Fathul Aminudin Aziz said here on Monday.
The government has launched massive infrastructure development using large foreign debts. The policy drew strong protest from the opposition party, which accused the government of overambitious in its infrastructure development driving the country closer to the brink of crisis pointing to the shrinking value of rupiah now hitting a record low the level of more than 15,000 per U.S. dollar.
The government, however, had defended its policy saying the cuntry`s finance is healthy pointing to low inflation and steady economic growth and lower unemployment and poverty ratio.
Fathul said funds spent on toll road should be proportional with funds for rural and community development.
Distribution of spending of village fund should be managed properly and transparency as funds for civil servants that are well accounted for.
"Villagers could not be expected to manage the fund properly. I have seen the village chiefs keeping the fund in safe place for fear of being accused of misuse of the fund," he said.
Many village chiefs and government officials have been involved in corruption cases embezzling billions of rupiahs of village funds.
There should be simple system of managing village funds, Fathul said.
He said the falling purchasing power of the people is attributable to falling value of rupiah against the U.S. dollar.
"Actually, our community economic basis is strong with much impact of the rise in the dollar value.
"The government, however, needs to address the economy of the lowest income people more seriously to improve their purchasing power," he said.
He said the impact of the massive infrastructure development would come only in the next 10-15 years, adding short term problem also need serious addressing.
He went on to say the economic condition of small farmers and fishermen need immediate attention such as how to facilitate the marketing of their commodities.
"The farmers would grow what the government would tell them to grow but the government should guarantee the market for their products with reasonable profit to improve their welfare," he added.
He cited under the government of President Suharto there was what is called mass guidance (Bimas) under which officers from the Agriculture Ministry giving farmer modern farming guidance and helped them in marketing .
Currently the government assistance is more in providing seeds and fertilizer and there is lack guidance in marketing.
"Involvement of the government in handling marketing show the presence of the state in their affairs," he said. (SYS/AS).
(T.SYS/A/H-ASG/C/F001) 22-10-2018 08:58:59