The people should not starve. I repeat, the people should not be starving. It is the order, and we will ensure it
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The government will distribute 11,212 tons rice as a form of social assistance during the emergency Community Activities Restrictions Enforcement (PPKM) period imposed in Java and Bali, Coordinating Maritime and Investment Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan stated.

The rice assistance aligns with the direct instruction of the president, with the army and the police supporting the distribution of the commodity to the poor, Pandjaitan remarked. The distribution of rice complements the social assistance already offered by the Ministry of Social Affairs.

"The people should not starve. I repeat, the people should not be starving. It is the order, and we will ensure it," Pandjaitan emphasized during a virtual press conference here on Thursday.

The rice assistance is targeted to cover 30 percent of the total 14.84 million poor in provinces on Java and Bali Islands. The assistance is specifically for 1.21 million families, or 4.4 million people, with 10 kilograms of rice to be distributed to each recipient family before the second week of July. Some Rp117.7 billion (around US$8,032,696) in total was spent on procuring 11,212 tons of rice for the rice assistance program.

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The government’s rice assistance is intended for daily and informal workers primarily living in densely populated areas impacted by the emergency PPKM implementation, such as traditional market and street hawkers, online motorcycle taxi drivers, public transportation drivers, owners and employees of food stalls, coolies, and scavengers.

Criteria for receiving rice assistance can be further determined on the basis of the actual situation on the site, with army and police assistance offered to prevent crowds during the distribution process.

Earlier, the central government had imposed emergency PPKM from July 3 to July 20 in the provinces of Java and Bali to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

The PPKM regulation stipulates obligation for workers from sectors, considered non-essential, to work from home and distance learning system to be continued for students. Establishments considered essential are allowed to operate, with a maximum of 50 percent of employees working in the office, while sectors considered critical are allowed to work in full capacity.

The government also ordered the closure of department stores, trade centers, and tourist attractions during the emergency PPKM period while allowing supermarkets, traditional markets, and grocery stores to operate, with visitor capacity capped at 50 percent.

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Translator: Sugiharto P, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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