Cilacap, Central Java (ANTARA) - State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir and Cooperatives and SMEs Minister Teten Masduki inaugurated the Fishermen's Diesel Fuel Program Initiative for Cooperatives in Cilacap, Central Java, used as one of the locations for the pilot project.

President Director of PT Pertamina Nicke Widyawati, member of Commission VI of the House of Representatives Adisatrya Suryo Sulisto, and some officials partook in the inauguration held at one of the fishermen's gas stations managed by the Mino Saroyo Village Unit Cooperative in Cilacap on Saturday.

After the inauguration, Minister Thohir noted that Indonesia was an extraordinary archipelagic and marine nation.

"However, if we see, fishermen's lives are still rather so-so. Hence, we, from the government, were ordered by Mr. President, Mr. Masduki as cooperatives minister, and I as SOEs minister, to try to initiate solutions for fishermen whose living standards must be improved," the minister remarked.

Thohir said the government must prioritize the welfare of fishermen in their programs, and this Solar Program Initiative for Cooperatives served as one of them, in which it aimed to provide easy access to fuel for fishermen.

According to the minister, this was because fishermen might still get fuel at a price of Rp7,000 to Rp10,000 per litre

"Today, (September 17), we ensure the price (diesel fuel) is Rp6,800 per litre. (The one in) Cilacap is a pilot project, (and) God willing, we will expedite it in several other areas," he stated.

The SOE Ministry and Minister Masduki ensured that subsidized fuel was distributed effectively and efficiently through the cooperatives. It is because with a cooperative, it means that the name and address were registered to a digital system.

"Hence, for example, if someone brings a jerry can, there is no problem because the data already exists, the barcode is visible. Well, this is what we maintain," he explained.

Hence, it also encourages financing for fishermen.

"From Mr. Masduki, the cooperative was given financing. We, from BRI. We encourage financing for the fishermen," Thohir stated.

According to the minister, the wives of fishermen were also included, as they could earn additional income by processing their catch into various products.

"There is also PNM Mekaar (Fostering a Prosperous Family Economy, a capital assistance program) present. Well, this is what we are doing today," he said.

Thohir said that if the program went accordingly, then his administration would replicate it at seven locations, and if it also saw some success, then the program would be implemented across Indonesia.

"Later, gradually, for the pilot project in Cilacap, Mr. Masduki and I are also trying hard to find buyers for fishermen's products," he stated.

To this end, Cooperatives and Small, Medium Enterprises Minister Teten Masduki said that his administration also contemplated on a solution, so that these fishermen could derive profits and avail better welfare.

Minister Thohir along with them would work together from upstream, starting from access to finance and fuel, as well as see to the possibility of the need for an ice factory and cold storage.

"Until later, we find the right off taker, whether to the domestic market or to the foreign market, so that later, the fishermen will gain maximum profit," he stated.

Member of Commission VI at the House of Representatives Adisatrya Suryo Sulisto commended the ministers for the program.

"This offers convenience for fishermen and can ensure the availability of fuel for them," he stated.

He expected that the program from both ministries could help fishermen, both in terms of fuel availability and gain from fishery products in the future.

Translator: Sumarwoto, Mecca Yumna
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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