As the government is about to upgrade its poverty-alleviation programs, the Social Affairs Ministry soon will commence an ambitious data validation and verification project.
The project, involving as many as 69,000 social workers, aims to clean up any irregularities in the current integrated poverty database, which is managed by the National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction (TNP2K) based on 2011 data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).
"So there is a process of verification and validation that we have to do before the distribution process of social aid can be done maximally," Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa said on the sidelines of a national coordination meeting on the matter in Central Jakarta on Tuesday.
At the moment, the government is focusing on distributing three cards to help low-income people - the Prosperous Family Card (KKS), the Indonesia Health Card (KIS) and the Indonesia Smart Card (KIP) - with the target of all people deemed eligible for the social assistance being in possession of all three cards by June 2015, according to Khofifah.
Khofifah said that the project was mandated by Law No. 13/2011 on the poor and underprivileged, which requires the ministry to conduct the validation and verification of poverty data once every two years, while local governments are required to do so every six months.
Besides that, the ministry deemed the project to be crucial after encountering irregularities in the current poverty data, with some poor people failing to be registered in the database while some aid recipients no longer need the aid as they have managed to rise above the poverty line.
With such a mandate, the ministry initially proposed a budget of Rp 1.2 trillion (S$125.9 million) at the House of Representatives to fund the project.
However, the legislature only approvided around Rp 400 billion for the project, according to the ministry's education and social welfare research department head, Mu'Man Nurayan.
"It is costly but this will be a milestone," he said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Khofifah said that while it might be expensive, it would cost the country more if it ran its poverty-alleviation programs in the absence of strong data.
This thinking is in line with one of the 169 post-2015 development targets proposed by 70 UN ambassadors in the so-called Open Working Group. The target says by 2020 the world should "increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts."
However, doing even minimal data collection for all these 169 targets would cost at least $254 billion, or almost twice the entire global annual development budget, according to think tank the Copenhagen Consensus Center.
Therefore, it argues that it might not be wise to spend so much money on data collection as it would yield less than $1 of benefit for every dollar spent on data collection.
The project is likely to start at the end of April 2015, with the main difference between the past poverty census and the planned project being that it will be community-based.