Jakarta. The Indonesian government has doubled its budget for a program to develop irrigation systems in country areas which is also intended to create more jobs for grassroots communities.
The Irrigation System Accelerated Program (P3-TGAI) has existed since 2013 and employed tens of thousands of workers last year. It has a total budget of Rp 600 billion ($45 million).
This year, its budget has been increased to Rp 1.1 trillion and the program is expected to create 62,400 new jobs.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, accompanied by Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, visited Dukuhlo village in Tegal, Central Java, on Monday (15/01) and Kersanagara village in Tasikmalaya, West Java, on Tuesday, to inspect the program.
"The progress of [this year's] program has been fast, even though it had just kicked off a week ago," Jokowi said in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday (17/01).
Jokowi hopes the program will reduce unemployment especially in country areas.
Indonesia had 10,000 new unemployed workers last year, bringing up its total unemployment number to 7.04 million, or 5.5 percent of the country's total workforce, as job creation failed to catch up with growing population entering the workforce, according to the latest available data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), published in August 2017.
"P3-TGAI targets 5,000 spots in 34 provinces to build new irrigation systems or repair existing ones. Each spot will receive Rp 225 million," Minister Basuki said in the statement.
The program pays each worker between Rp 80,000 and Rp 100,000 per day and provides construction jobs, each one lasting around 50 days, to farm workers who typically need other jobs between rice planting and harvest seasons.
Jokowi said P3-TGAI is a government program to minimize purchasing power parity in Indonesia's under-developed regions.
The Public Works and Housing Ministry allocates Rp 11.28 trillion this year for labor-intensive infrastructure programs. Aside from P3-TGAI, the ministry also has programs to build houses for the poor, protect environment in residential areas and repair public infrastructures including bridges and roads.
These programs are expected to create 263,000 jobs this year.