President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo receives his religious tax payment number fromNational Alms Agency (Baznas) chairman Bambang Sudibyo at the State Palace, in Central Jakarta on Thursday (30/06). (State Palace Press Photo)

Ministers Pay Religious Tax Aimed at Reducing Social Disparity

BY :EKO PRASETYO

JUNE 30, 2016

Jakarta. The State Palace in Central Jakarta witnessed the first ever mass collection of religious tax, known as zakat, from government ministers and senior officials on Thursday (30/06).

During the ceremony, National Alms Agency (Baznas) chairman Bambang Sudibyo said Indonesia has the potential to collect a huge amount of money in zakat, as it aims to reduce social disparity in the community.

Based on Indonesia's gross domestic product, it was estimated that the country had the potential to collect as much as Rp 286 trillion ($21.69 billion) in alms in 2015. However, the total collected only amounted to Rp 3.7 trillion.

"[The rate of] zakat collection is still very low, where in 2015 it was only Rp 3.7 trillion, or 1.3 percent of GDP," Bambang said, as quoted in a statement.

According to Bambang, a well-managed zakat collection would reduce the huge social disparity, as shown by Indonesia's gini ratio, measuring the degree of inequality in income distribution.

"If zakat, infaq and alms are managed well, God willing, it will lower inequalities," Bambang said.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo paid his religious tax to Baznas on Tuesday.

"On behalf of Baznas, we convey our gratitude to the president for paying his religious tax on June 28, as also for instructing the state secretary to invite ministers to pay their zakat today. May this be an example to be followed by regional leaders," Bambang said.

Jokowi, accompanied by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, took a moment to observe the eight counters provided for zakat collection at the State Palace.

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