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Jakarta Post

Improve social welfare and reduce wealth gap, MPR speaker tells Jokowi

  • Marguerite Afra Sapiie
    Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, August 16, 2018   /   12:36 pm
Improve social welfare and reduce wealth gap, MPR speaker tells Jokowi President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (second right) walks along with Vice President Jusuf Kalla (right) People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker Zulkifli Hasan (second left) and House of Representatives speaker Bambang Soesatyo ( left) to attend the annual plenary session of the MPR in Jakarta on Thursday. (Antara/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Zulkifli Hasan has reminded President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration to work harder on the country's economy, including improvements in social welfare and reducing inequality among the people.

In his speech to open the MPR plenary meeting on Thursday—held a day before Independence Day--Zulkifli told Jokowi and Vice President Jusuf Kalla that while the country's achievements over the last 20 years of the Reform Era were satisfying, the government needed to create breakthroughs in addressing economic challenges.

"As the people's representative and MPR speaker, I want to assert that there's no independence in poverty and there's no independence without social justice," said Zulkifli, who is also the chairman of the opposition National Mandate Party (PAN).

He went on to say that people who lived under or slightly above the poverty line were prone to be affected by the increase in commodity prices. He said the government must ensure price stability so citizens could maintain their purchasing power.

"Mr. President, housewives have conveyed a message [for the government] to ensure that the prices of staple commodities are attainable," Zulkifli said.

He also cited the importance of managing Indonesia's foreign debt to ensure domestic economic stability and resilience, and more importantly to prevent a financial crisis.

"We must keep in mind that the principles of the nation's well-being should not be defeated when they clash with the political reality [...] the principles must not be neglected for the interest of a few elites," he said.