The Jakarta Post
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo promised a significant paycheck increase for religious counselors when he met with around 5,000 religious counselors in Semarang, Central Java, on Saturday.
The pay rise will be given to religious counselors who have been hired by the Religious Affairs Ministry on a contractual basis. The ministry employs religious counselors for the six religions recognized by the state — Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.
According to the ministry, of 81,000 religious counselors, 45,000 are hired by the government on a contractual basis.
“We hope the paycheck will be doubled. If not this year, then next year,” Jokowi said to the audience’s applause.
The President said that he would talk to the regional legislative councils regarding the matter.
“Religious counsellors play the key role in Indonesia’s unity. [I regret that] the government hasn't given them adequate appreciation,” he said.
He cited a study that showed that 85 percent of Indonesians thought religious matters were very important. “But at the same time social conflicts rooted in religious diversity remain rampant,” he said.
He said every time he met other country leaders, he always heard praise for Indonesia’s unity.
“There are 714 tribes, 1,100 local dialects and countless traditions. We live on 17,000 islands but still under the Republic of Indonesia. Today Indonesia is an example of a moderate Muslim society and the example of the success of unity in diversity,” he said. (gis/ahw)