The Jakarta administration plans to survey poverty on the basis of the basic cost of living (KHL) to ascertain the real number of poor people in every subdistrict and to allow it to design suitable programs to cope with the problem.
Deputy Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama said the administration would set aside funds for the Jakarta office of the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) in the revision of the city budget so that the agency could carry out the survey this year.
"We hope that by 2015, we will have accurate data on the number of residents living in poverty in every subdistrict and the problems they face. By doing so, we can look for a solution to this problem," he said.
Last month, the administration unveiled data stating that the number of poor people in Jakarta reached 375,700, or 3.72 per cent of the city's total population in September 2013.
The poverty line in Jakarta was set at below Rp 434,322 (US$36,67) per capita in 2013. Meanwhile, the official minimum wage this year was set at Rp 2.29 million per month, lower than Rp 2.76 million demanded by labour unions.
Ahok said he was ready to accept the results of the survey, which was expected to find a high number of poor in the city. He said there was no need to feel ashamed at the number of poor people.
"If we used the UN's poverty threshold of $2 per day, the result would be misleading. We often cover up the truth, but now our administration wants to start something new," he said.
He was speaking before more than 100 undergraduate students of the Institute of Public Administration (IPDN) at City Hall on Monday. The students reported the results of a survey they did on the KHL during a three-week Community Service Program in the Thousand Islands regency in May.
Ahok said he hoped the students would strive to use the same benchmark of KHL to get data on the poverty rate when they became civil servants.
He also used the opportunity to advise the students to refrain from any abuse of power when they take up positions in the civil service.
"If you want to be rich, be a businessperson, not a civil servant. It would be very cowardly to desire to be rich but be too lazy to work hard and be disciplined. It would lead to abuse of power and extortion, which would be unacceptable," he said.
Separately, Thousand Islands Regent Asep Syarifudin said the students' survey concluded that the KHL in the regency was Rp 2.6 million. He said he appreciated their efforts in conducting the survey, but was not satisfied with the details.
"Frankly speaking, as a regent, I am not satisfied because I can't see the exact number of poor people on every island. That is why I will coordinate with the deputy governor to follow up on the survey," he said.
According to 2012 data of the Thousand Islands office of the BPS, 63 per cent of workers in the regency worked in the informal sector.
The majority of residents, or more than 6,000 people, work in trade, transportation, finance and the service industry, followed by more than 2,600 residents working in agriculture and mining and 670 people working in the industrial, electricity, water and property sectors.
"North Thousand Islands district has better work opportunities from the government, the private sector and society. If they don't fish, they can do other work.
"Meanwhile, people in the South district are more interested in fishing and tourism," Asep said.