Bali challenged as poverty rate increases

Despite its hard work to reduce the number of impoverished households, the Bali administration is being challenged as the poverty rate on the island has increased. The 2013 National Socioeconomic Survey (Susenas), conducted by the Central Statistics Agency’s (BPS) Bali office, recorded 186,000 people living below the poverty line as of September 2013, around 4.49 percent of the total population. This is an increase of 0.54 percent from the 162,000 people in March 2013, or 3.95 percent of the total population.

The statistics agency also reported that the increasing number of poor households were mostly in three regencies: Bangli, Klungkung and Karangasem. The provincial administration stated this increase did not suggest a failure in its poverty eradication programs; rather that the fuel-price hike that took place mid last year was followed by rising prices for daily needs. “We do not intend to make excuses. But this is a fact.

While unemployment has decreased, the poverty rate has increased,” Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika said recently. The agency reported that unemployment had decreased from 1.89 percent in March 2013 to 1.79 percent in August 2013. Pastika added that the administration had allocated a large amount from the annual budget for the poverty eradication programs. “In 2008, we only allocated Rp 80 billion [US$6.5 million] of the annual budget for poverty programs, now in 2014 we have allocated Rp 637 billion.

This will be added to by all provincial agencies that are focusing their programs on accelerating poverty eradication,” Pastika said. Pastika has launched several major poverty reduction initiatives, including free healthcare for all registered residents of the island, free house renovation for poor families, a scholarship program for poor students and the integrated farming system (Simantri), which offers cash and technical assistance to farmers’ groups willing to adopt to organic farming and alternative energy sources.

Also under the umbrella of the Bali Mandara program is Gerbangsadu, a generous Rp 1.02 billion cash assistance package for any village willing to establish community-based economic enterprises. The number of people living in poverty had been decreasing since 2008, when Pastika started his Bali Mandara initiative, which placed poverty alleviation as a top priority. In 2008, the number of people living below the poverty line in the province amounted to 6.17 percent of the population.

This then dropped to 4.18 percent in 2009, and 3.9 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, in 2011, the number of poor people increased to 4.2 percent. In 2012, the percentage had once again decreased to 3.95 percent, placing Bali as the province with the second lowest number of poor people in the nation, after Jakarta. Pastika, who was reelected in May, is eager to decrease the number of people living below the poverty line to only 1 percent by 2018.

Pastika said that high inflation caused by the fuel price hike was beyond his expectation. Moreover, the population on the island continuously increased. “The increasing population is mostly caused by migration and has given us a greater challenge to alleviate poverty. The more people coming to the island, the harder work it is for us to alleviate poverty,” he said. With the impact of rapid tourism development, Bali is now facing a population boom.

In 2013, the statistics agency showed that population had reached more than 4 million people, an increase from 3.89 million two years previously. Earlier data from the agency showed that in the 10-year period 2000-2010, Bali recorded its highest population growth of the last 50 years, growing 2.15 percent from 3.15 million to 3.89 million. Pastika said that the administration was now trying to find the best solution to control population growth, particularly that caused by migration.

“Of course, we cannot prohibit people from across Indonesia coming to Bali for work. But we will find another solution, including through enforcement of the spatial planning bylaw,” Pastika said.

source : bali daily

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