News Feature – Village funds free people from shackles of poverty by Andi Abdussalam

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - One of the government programs considered successful is the village fund, which is aimed at financing labor-intensive program in villages, to help reduce poverty and improve the welfare of villagers across the country.

The village fund program has been launched over the past four years. Since 2015, the government has channeled some Rp187 trillion in funds for village development. The program has been successful in reducing the poverty rate in the country.

According to President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), thanks to the village fund program, the poverty rate in villages had declined two folds compared to that in cities, owing to the allocation of the funds for development in villages.

"Some 1.2 million villagers have been freed from the shackles of poverty," Jokowi remarked, while addressing a function on highlighting the need to prioritize the utilization of the 2019 village fund and evaluation of development policy and empowerment of villagers, in Banten Province.

The success of the village fund program is also lauded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) President Gilbert Houngbo. In a press statement, Houngbo noted that the village fund program not only brought about a transformation to benefit all parties in village areas but is also a strategy in line with the IFAD program to develop villages through the farming sector.

"What impresses me is that through the village fund program, the development between social sectors and economic sectors has been coherent," Houngbo noted during a meeting with the Minister of Villages, Underdeveloped Regions, and Transmigration (PDTT), Eko Putro Sandjojo, on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank Annual Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, last month.

Houngbo lauded the village fund program during the limited meeting with Sandjojo.

According to Jokowi, the village fund program is a form of government attention to villages throughout the country.

The president remarked that no less than Rp187 trillion of funds had currently been channeled for the development of villages in Indonesia. "We have implemented the village funds program for about four years, amounting to Rp187 trillion. Additionally, next year, the village funds will amount to Rp70 trillion. This means that the government is giving significant attention to villages," the head of state noted on Sunday (Nov 4).

The government in 2018 allocated Rp60 trillion as village funds, of which some 30 percent, or Rp18 trillion, is designated to finance labor-intensive programs in villages to reduce the poverty rate.

The Rp60 trillion was distributed to 74,910 villages. On an average, each village would receive Rp800 million, of which 30 percent, or Rp240 million, will be allocated to villagers involved in labor-intensive programs.

The programs were projected to absorb a workforce of five to six million, thus reducing the poverty rate in rural areas. The village funds in 2018 focused on creating job opportunities for villagers through labor-intensive programs and self-managed infrastructure development.

Furthermore, a report by the Presidential Staff Office, citing the achievement of the Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla government, indicated that the people had utilized the village funds in accordance with their needs to increase their productivity and improve the quality of life in villages.

The achievements of the program included the construction of 6,932 village markets, 39,371 irrigation channels, and 1,028,225 bridges.

Development of villages in frontier areas was also financed with village funds. The government has distributed Rp14.31 trillion for outer and frontier areas, according to the PDTT minister.

"This is the governments commitment to supporting people in frontier areas from backwardness and poverty," Sanjoyo remarked.

For the first time, the government has brought a touch of modernity to border areas mainly in Kalimantan and Papua. Currently, there are 41 district areas included in the category of frontier and outer regions or almost 10 percent of the countrys 434 district areas.

Village funds had been used in the 41 frontier district areas to build 9,510,202 meters of village access roads, 130,596 meters of bridges, 1,066 units of boat terminals, 1,445 Village Companies (BUMDs), 610 units of village market centers,680 units of retention basins, 1,289 units of sports facilities and irrigation projects.

Considering the success of the program, the government will provide Rp70 trillion in village funds in 2019.

Besides that, Jokowi has promised to provide funds for village operations, apart from the village funds, starting from the 2019 budget year, amounting to some five percent of the village funds of Rp70 trillion.

"Before I forget, I need to say that there will be village operational funds. The village head will use the operational funds," the president said when opening the national work meeting on appropriate technology last month (Oct 19)

The current government is drafting a Revised Government Regulation (PP) Number 22 Year 2015 on Village Funds to include budgetary elements for village operational funds. "Again, we will revise its PP, we will just count if it gets five percent or can be four percent," he added.

In addition to promising village operational funds, the president also remarked that the government would allocate budgets to urban village offices. "From next year, we will allocate the urban village budget too," he pointed out.

Source: ANTARA News

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