Fuel subsidy should go to poor people: Minister

"It would be better if state budget, which so far is much used to subsidize fuel, is used for helping the poor, rather than letting the rich to spend it," Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Increase in subsidized fuel prices should be accompanied with a step to provide subsidy for poor people who need it, Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said.

"It would be better if state budget, which so far is much used to subsidize fuel, is used for helping the poor, rather than letting the rich to spend it," the minister told a press conference here on Monday.

He said that fuel oil subsidy could be used to develop an entrepreneurship program and open new jobs through productive labor intensive programs and infrastructure development in urban and rural areas.

Muhaimin said that apart from the polemics of the government`s plan to raise subsidized fuel oil prices, all people should understand that raising the price was something that could not be avoided now.

"The decision to increase fuel price will safeguard the state budget and the nation`s economic growth," he said.

So, he said, the state budget should no longer be enjoyed by people in the middle and upper income brackets who own cars that consume fuels subsidized by the state amounting to trillions of rupiahs.

The minister said that it was now time for the poor to enjoy subsidy (so far provided for fuels) through the government`s temporary direct cash assistance (BLSM).

"This program would be more beneficial for the poor. The people who needed it will be given priority in this program," he said.

The minister said his side expected that the subsidy would be used to reduce the number of unemployed people.

He said that at present the number of unemployed people reached 7.17 million (5.92 percent) of the Indonesian workforce of 121.2 millions.(*)

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