The Jakarta Post
A senior economist has warned that the government’s sluggish distribution in the rice social assistance (Rastra) program may cause an increase in rice prices.
"We have to distribute the social assistance on time. If not, the recipients will buy rice from the market, reducing the rice stock,” said Bustanul Arifin, a senior economist from the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef) in Jakarta on Thursday.
The government is scheduled to distribute Rastra on the 25th day of every month.
The government initially planned to distribute all non-cash social assistance in the form of cards, but the plan was revised.
Instead, the government still employs the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) to distribute assistance in the form of rice.
Bustanul welcomed the government’s decision, saying that such a change in distribution method should be carried out gradually, because it involved about 10 million recipients.
"It's good that the cashless assistance program is not being implemented all at once. Such a change is too radical,” he said.
Bulog is set to distribute 142,000 tons of rice on Jan. 25. Bulog operational director Karyawan Gunarso said on Tuesday that Bulog had been instructed by the government to distribute the assistance to 14.2 million families in January. (srs/bbn)