Requiring recipients to use mobile apps could hamper efforts to distribute much-needed subsidized goods


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App-based monitoring of subsidized cooking oil and fuel distribution may deny access to intended recipients from low-income families.

The Indonesian government’s move to use two existing mobile apps as a tool to monitor accurate distribution could ultimately deny poor access to these subsidized goods.

This is because they have relatively little access to smartphones and the internet, as well as lower technological literacy. Instead, the government should identify recipients using data provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Digitize subsidies

Recently, the government pushed ahead with its plan to allow the public to use the PeduliLindendi and MyPertamina applications to buy subsidized cooking oil and fuel.

The price of cooking oil has skyrocketed in recent months. Meanwhile, 90-octane pertalite is currently the cheapest subsidized fuel after the government increased the price of pertamax in early April.

In response to public outcry over unaffordable cooking oil, the government in May enacted an ordinance mandating the wholesale distribution of cheap cooking oil to the lower-income population (25% of the lowest-income population) as well as micro and small businesses . It comes with a predetermined maximum selling price of Rp 14,000 per liter or Rp 15,500 per kilogram which is priced below the current market price.

Meanwhile, the government has also ordered state-owned oil company Pertamina to restrict Pertalite’s distribution by banning “luxury” personal vehicles — identified as those of 2,000cc and over — from using the product.

The government claims these apps can serve as a surveillance tool to stem leaks, prevent bid hijacking and ensure targeted distribution of subsidized goods.

Experts from diverse backgrounds, from netizens to recipients — commentators from a range of groups have contested this claim.

The use of apps can affect the distribution of subsidized goods

In our view, the government’s plan is not what these apps were designed for.

PeduliLindendi was created as a platform to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. MyPertamina is now intended for the cashless purchase of fuel at petrol stations.

Also, and more importantly, this system will no doubt become very onerous on the community.

Ever since the plan came to light, lower-income people — who should be the primary users of these subsidized products — have complained about the idea, citing a likely ineffectiveness and inefficiency of the distribution. Some also express concerns about data security.

Your concerns are valid.

The National Statistics Agency’s (BPS) National Socio-Economic Survey (SUSENAS) database shows that many Indonesians still lack access to digital services. The survey found that up to 34% of adult citizens do not use a mobile phone. The survey also shows that 52.3% of the population still does not access the Internet today.

This distribution mechanism does not fit with the “Java-centric” policies that the government in many cases enacts in favor of most Indonesian citizens living on the island. The data shows that adult citizens without mobile phones and internet access on Java – Indonesia’s most developed island – account for 34.27% and 56.7%.

Based on 2021 SUSENAS, one in four lower-middle-income people does not own a mobile phone, smartphone, or access the internet.

The government’s solution for those without cellphones and internet access is to allow offline purchases with an ID card number (NIK). Unfortunately, SUSENAS also states that 9.3 million adult citizens do not have this number.

This shows that the government’s plan to use PeduliLindendi and MyPertamina is a miscalculation that ignores these facts.

Furthermore, despite being downloaded by more than 98 million users, PeduliLindendi only has 60 million active users despite being a mandatory app during the pandemic, according to the Health Ministry at the end of May. As for MyPertamina, the application has only been downloaded 6 million times.

The government must ensure which of the 60 million active PeduliLindendi users and the 6 million MyPertamina users are the intended recipients of the subsidized cooking oil and fuel.

In addition, the figure does not even capture the full number of citizens who are entitled to these subsidized goods. In Indonesia, 26.5 million of the population live below the poverty line. This figure does not include the population in the lower midfield, who could also be recipients of the subsidized goods.

We believe the government is doing complex things that should have been easy. Instead, her move may have created the impression that she cannot handle domestic trade and the distribution of basic needs.

Instead of making it easier for those in need to access cheap cooking oil and fuel, these policies could even limit it.

Back to basics

We believe that the Prosperous Family Card (Kartu Keluarga Sejahtera/KKS) and Family Hope Program (Program Keluarga Harapan/PKH) are better databases for the government to use to ensure proper distribution.

The Ministry of Social Affairs programs the KKS and PKH to pay out conditional social assistance to low-income families. The databases of these two cards are superior to PeduliLindendi, especially in identifying subsidized cooking oil and fuel recipients.

Beneficiary families of these programs are recorded in the Integrated Social Welfare Data (Data Terpadu Kesejahteraan Sosial/DTKS). This electronic database contains social, economic and demographic information of around 99 million Indonesians with the lowest welfare status.

In addition, DTKS includes data not only on the poor but also on the lower-middle income and micro, small and medium-sized businesses who are regular buyers of cheap cooking oil and fuel.

Therefore, using them with the data from the KKS and PKH programs would be more appropriate to ensure proper distribution of cooking oil and fuel than using PeduliLindendi and MyPertamina.

As cooking fuels become more expensive, people are turning to dirtier alternatives

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Citation: Requiring Recipients to Use Mobile Apps may Hemme effort to Distributing Much-Needed Subsidized Goods (2022, July 6), retrieved July 6, 2022 from mobile-apps-Korb.html

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