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Jakarta Post

Govt expands social aid for poor to prevent Idul Fitri ‘mudik’

  • Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, April 11, 2020   /   07:13 am
Govt expands social aid for poor to prevent Idul Fitri ‘mudik’ People sit in front of their houses as a train passes by in a low-income area in Pekojan, West Jakarta, on Nov. 28, 2019. (JP/P.J. Leo)

In the past several weeks, the government has expanded several social assistance programs for low-income citizens across the country affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on Thursday that the government had made it a top priority to ensure citizens’ basic needs were met. He also expressed confidence the government could maintain the purchasing power of low-income people during the crisis.

From cash transfers for Jakarta residents to financial aid for bus drivers, these are the programs the government has launched to help low-income citizens during the outbreak:

The President said he hoped the social aid would help dissuade people from participating in the annual Idul Fitri mudik (exodus), which is feared will increase the spread of the disease.

Other than being an annual tradition, Jokowi said people were seeking to return to their hometowns because their businesses had been struggling or because they had lost their jobs due to the crisis.

Read also: COVID-19: Jakarta begins distributing door-to-door social aid

Indonesia’s poor and underprivileged are at risk of slipping into destitution as the government struggles to balance the economy and adressing the public health crisis.

“We are providing social assistance, especially within Greater Jakarta, so residents will refrain from going home,” said Jokowi.

The government issued regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) No. 1/2020 on state financial policy and financial system stability, which stipulates a reallocation of Rp 405.1 trillion in state funds to the health sector, social safety net programs and tax incentives.

The President also asked businesspeople and employers to instruct their workers not to return to their respective hometowns and called on members of the community to support underprivileged citizens.

Health experts have urged the government to prevent people from returning to their hometowns for the upcoming Idul Fitri holidays to help flatten the COVID-19 curve. However, the government has only advised people not to participate in mudik, stopping short of imposing a restriction.

Many regions have reported that thousands of people have been arriving from Jakarta for the past few months.

Around 20 million people from around the country travel to their hometowns annually to celebrate Idul Fitri.

As of Friday, the Health Ministry had recorded 1,753 confirmed cases in the capital with 154 fatalities. Nationwide, 3,512 cases and 306 deaths have been recorded.