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Jakarta Post

North Sumatra poverty level increasing, says BPS

  • Apriadi Gunawan

    The Jakarta Post

Medan   /   Fri, January 9, 2015   /  11:00 am

A rickety hut located in a slum area of Medan, North Sumatra, is the home of Yunus Ramadhan, his mother and elder brother. It is on the verge of collapsing.

Living without a father, 8-year-old Yunus earns money as a scavenger.

Along with his 13-year-old brother Chaidir Ali, he also works shining shoes. Their mother, Darnius, collects and sells recycled goods.

'€œOur father has passed away, so we have to work and help our mother earn a living to put food on the table,'€ Yunus told The Jakarta Post after polishing shoes on Jl. Agus Salim, Medan, on Wednesday.

Yunus and his family are among thousands of poor families in Medan.

According to Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data, the number of poor people in North Sumatra increased by 0.47 percent this year.

BPS North Sumatra head Wien Kusdiatmono said the number of poor people in the province was 1,360,600, or 9.85 percent of the province'€™s population.

Wien added that the poverty number had risen since March 2014, when it stood at 1,286,700.

'€œThe number of poor people in North Sumatra has risen by 73,900 people, or 0.47 percent,'€ said Wien at his office.

Wien added that the poverty rate corresponded with the National Social Economic Survey (Susenas) conducted in September 2014.

According to the survey, the number of urban poor in North Sumatra stood at 667,500 people and 693,100 people in rural areas.

He said the increase in the number of poor people during March and September 2014 was believed to be attributed to the inflation rate, which rose from 1.48 to 2.83 percent during September 2013 to March 2014.

Wien said other factors included the Farmers Exchange Rate (NTP), which experienced a drop from 101.31 points in March 2014 to 99.79 points in September 2014.

The open unemployment rate also increased from 5.95 percent in February 2014 to 6.23 percent in August 2014.

Economic growth also slowed from 5.64 percent in the first quarter in 2014 to 5.20 percent in the third quarter of 2014.

Wien explained that poor people were categorized as those with expenditure levels below the poverty line.

According to him, the poverty line in North Sumatra in September 2014 was Rp 330,663 (about US$27) monthly per capita.

For urban areas, added Wien, the poverty line was Rp 349,372 monthly per capita, while in rural areas Rp 312,493 monthly per capita.

North Sumatra Governor Gatot Pujo Nugroho acknowledged the increase in poverty in the province, but played it down.

'€œThe rise in the poverty rate is insignificant, less than 1 percent,'€ he said.

He added he had urged agencies and working units in the North Sumatra administration to address the poverty issue by offering project tenders to facilitate the improvement of people'€™s welfare.

Brilian Moktar, a member of the North Sumatra Provincial Legislative Council (DPRD) Commission E on people'€™s welfare, said the rise in the number of underprivileged people in the province indicated that the provincial administration had failed to improve people'€™s well-being.

Brilian said the programs run by the administration had only touched middle to upper-income groups.

'€œMany underprivileged people in North Sumatra still do not benefit from government programs. This is cause for concern as it will impact on increasing the poverty rate,'€ said Brilian, who vowed to bring the matter to the DPRD for thorough discussion.

Indonesia'€™s poverty level fell slightly in September last year, despite low commodity prices and rising minimum wages, according to the BPS.

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