A farmer wears a mask as she harvests rice in Aceh Besar, Aceh, on Tuesday. (Antara Photo/Irwansyah Putra)

Gov't Speeds Up Labor-Intensive Programs in Rural Areas Impacted by Pandemic

BY :TARA MARCHELIN

APRIL 14, 2020

Jakarta. The Public Works and Housing Ministry has sped up its cash-funded labor-intensive programs for people in rural areas. The ministry has allocated a budget of Rp 10 trillion, or $634 million, for the programs.

"The labor-intensive programs are aimed at preserving rural communities' purchasing power, reducing unemployment rate during the Covid-19 pandemic and distributing development funds to rural areas," Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said in an online press conference on Monday.

Basuki said several infrastructure projects, mainly small-scale ones that do not require much technology, had already started in the first week of April.

The projects will require participation from local residents.

The minister said the labor-intensive programs have several implementation steps: recruitment, training, promotion and execution.

"Every step is implemented according to the government's Covid-19 protocols," he said.

The minister mentioned the example of a small-scale irrigation project that usually needs 70 to 80 people working on it but now will have two teams, each comprising 40 people, working on different shifts.

"They will change shift every week. It would normally take two months to complete, but now it will take three months. The workers will be paid weekly," Basuki said.

Similar small-scale irrigation projects are planned in 10,000 locations, with a total budget of Rp 2.25 trillion.

The Public Works and Housing Ministry also has a program targeted at urban areas called City Without Slums or Kotaku to repair drainages in 364 kampung, and a housing program to repair or rebuild 220,000 dilapidated houses.

"We will repair 208,000 houses and rebuild 12,000. We will spend approximately Rp 17.5 million to Rp 25 million on each house, depending on the condition. The total budget for this program is Rp 4.7 trillion," Basuki said.

The minister said routine road and bridge maintenance is included in the labor-intensive programs.

The ministry has set aside a budget of Rp 110 billion to do maintenance or repair work on 496 kilometers of bridges and Rp 518 billion for work on 47,017 kilometers of road.

"We've also allocated Rp 100 billion to buy rubber from rubber producer cooperatives in Pontianak, Lampung, Jambi and Riau since local rubber price has been falling," the minister said.

The labor-intensive programs will also develop sanitation facilities, drinking water network and roads to improve access to rice fields.  

The Public Works and Housing Ministry has asked the Foreign Affairs Ministry to help them identify migrant workers who have returned from abroad and ask them to join the labor-intensive programs.

"Migrant workers who have returned from abroad can find work in the labor-intensive programs after they finish their mandatory quarantine," Basuki said.

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