JAKARTA. The government is planning to distribute the vouchers of non-cash food subsidy on 23 February 2017. This year, the food vouchers would be distributed to 1.4 million families in 44 cities across Indonesia, such as Medan, Pekanbaru, Palembang, Jambi, Lampung, Cilegon, Tangerang, South Tangerang, Jakarta, Bogor, and Bekasi.
The government is preparing an amount of Rp 1.57 trillion budgets for this program.
Coordinating Minister of Human Development and Cultural Affairs Puan Maharani said, the government will be partnering with the grocery shops as the providers of the staple foods. In other words, the beneficiary families may buy the staple foods with the vouchers at those grocery shops.
According to Puan, 9,000 units of grocery shops have agreed to partner with the state owned banks, which will distribute the vouchers. However, the government has not yet partnered with the modern shops for this program.
Directorate General of Poverty Management at Ministry of Social Affairs Andi ZA Dulung added, to date, the government has distributed 500,000 food voucher cards, each worth Rp 220,000, to the beneficiary families. The amount of Rp 220,000 is the accumulation of the food aid for two months, January and February. Understandably, the government provides as much as Rp 110,000 food aid per month for every targeted beneficiary family.
According to Andi, the rests of 900,000 cards are now being processed. “Hopefully, all will be settled on 23 February,” he said.
As information, previously the government launched the program of rice social assistance (Rastra) with the total budget of Rp 22.3 trillion. Under this program, the government had allocated rice aid to 15.5 million targeted households.
Meanwhile, Vice Chairman of Commission IV of DPR (the House of Representatives) Herman Khaeron said that DPR needs detail information related to the policy from the government. “During the work meeting at Commission IV, there had been no decision of the plan to implement the food voucher program,” he said.
According to Herman, there has been no agreement on shifting a part of Rastra’s budgets to food voucher program. Furthermore, the implementation of food voucher program also might increase the price of premium quality rice, on the grounds that the beneficiaries of the program might want to use the voucher cards to buy rice with premium quality.
At a certain level, the food voucher program will be overlapping with Rastra program, as to date the Rastra program has supplied rice with medium quality for poor family. “It would be better if it (the food voucher) is allocated to the regions, of which the people do not consume rice as the staple food,” Herman said.