Baby boom expected in Indonesia soon

The shortage of marriage registration books, which has hit some regions in the country, could point to a serious demographic problem that has resulted from the failure of the family planning programme.

Sri Moertiningsih Adioetomo of the University of Indonesia's Demographic Institute said that the government had been too slow to respond to changes in population trends, including an increase in the number of couples getting married at an early age.

She said shortage in the marriage registration books exposed the government's hands-off approach to demographic change, especially the rising numbers of young couples.

"We observed that uneducated people, mostly in rural areas, get married after graduating from high school," he said.

If the trend continues, Sri expected that the country would experience a population boom in the next decade.

With a higher birth-to-death ratio and improved health care, Sri said that Indonesia would see a population boom between 2020 and 2030.

The National Population and Family Planning Agency (BKKBN), meanwhile, said that the country was on the verge of an upcoming population boom, with a growth rate of 1.49 per cent per year, or an increase of 4-5 million.

"This means 10,000 babies are born every day," said BKKBN chairman Fasli Jalal as quoted by Antara news agency.

Fasli said that his agency had failed to reach its target in reducing the fertility rate as mandated by the 2010-2014 medium-term development planning, according to preliminary reports of Indonesia's demographic and health survey of 2012.

"The total fertility rate between 2002 and 2013 leveled at 2.6 and is holding steady," he said.

In recent days, local administrations in some parts of the country have run out of marriage registration books, forcing thousands of newly married couples to get temporary marriage documents.

Muslims in the country believe that the haj season is the best time to have a wedding and that caused the number of couples getting married to soar.

The Religious Affairs Ministry said that the government had failed to anticipate the unprecedented rise in the number of couples getting married.

"I can confirm that the shortage in marriage books in some regions has been due to the soaring number of Muslim weddings," the ministry's director general for public assistance, Abdul Jamil said over the weekend.

Coordinating People's Welfare Minster Agung Laksono, however, said that the shortage was caused by delays in the tender for the shipment of the marriage registration books at the Religious Affairs Ministry.

Data from the Religious Affairs Ministry show that provinces which recorded a record number of marriages - during the haj season - included West, East and Central Java, Banten, Lampung, North Sumatra and South Kalimantan.

Abdul said that some other regions outside of those provinces also registered soaring numbers of marriages this year.

Despite the shortage in the marriage registration books, the ministry encouraged Muslim couples to go ahead with their wedding plans. "We have given the order to give married couples a temporary document as proof that their union is legal. All new couples are registered legally."

Some regions however had experienced a shortage in the marriage registration books before this year's haj season.

In Samarinda, East Kalimantan, a local official said the shortage of new marriage books had occurred weeks before the start of the haj season in early October.

"Several regencies and municipalities still have no new marriage book at all," Johan Marpaung, an official with the East Kalimantan Religious Affairs Agency, said late last week.

Muhamad Jali, an official with the Religious Affairs Office (KUA) in Banyuwangi Regency in East Java, said that he had been forced to get supplies of the books from neighbouring regencies that had a surplus.

Data from the Religious Affairs Ministry show that more 2.2 million couples registered their marriages in 2012. The three provinces with the highest numbers of marriages were West Java with 400,000 marriages, East Java with 397,000 and Central Java with 330,000.