BPS data: Jokowi Administration has lowest poverty eradication achievement

Muhammad Atok

IO – The Indonesian Statistics (Badan Pusat Statistik – “BPS”) recently released an interesting data that many welcomes: the Government’s success in reducing the percentage of poor residents to a single digit. As an achievement, we naturally must appreciate this. However, emphasizing the single-digit limit aspect of the achievement might cause misunderstandings in society.

This article is just a note on the reduction of poor citizen percentage through different governmental rules, according to data officially released by BPS from 1976 to 2018. These records review the level of achievement in reducing poor citizen. The percentage is an indicator of the Government’s success in resolving poverty.

BPS data on poor citizen percentage starts from 1976 and measured periodically. Poor citizen percentage is recorded in different periods: sometimes biennially, sometimes triennially. Since 1999, BPS releases poor citizen percentage data regularly every year.

On one hand, BPS data is still questionable to the public, especially in terms of determining the poverty line and the method for collecting poor citizen data. The determination of the poverty line is a critical point, because a slight difference in the poverty line might mean a different percentage from the one published by BPS. This is most obvious during the reign of Presidents B.J. Habibie and Abdurrahman Wahid, when BPS lowers the limit for poverty. The other critical point is the method for taking poverty data. If the sampling is improper or incorrect, the results in the percentage of would be biased.

To simplify things, let us leave these two issues and assume that there are no problems in the methodology. Throughout President Soeharto’s reign from 1976 to 1996 (we will ignore the 1997 data, as it occurred during monetary crisis), the Government successfully reduced poor citizen percentage from 40.1% poor citizen to 11.3% just moments before the crisis. This means that Soeharto’s Government succeeded in reducing poor citizen percentage by 28.8%, or an average reduction of 1.44% per annum.

Presidents B. J. Habibie and Abdurrahman Wahid are not discussed, because they ruled during a volatile transitional period for a very short time.

During President Megawati Soekarnoputri’s reign, poor citizen percentage decreased from 19.14% at the start of her presidency in 2000 to 16.66% at the end of her rule, or 2.48%. In terms of performance, Megawati’s Government reduced poor citizen percentage at 0.62% per year.

Throughout President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s 10-year rule, poor citizen percentage decreased 6.15% or about 0.62% per year. This means that Presidents SBY and Megawati have about the same level of performance in terms of poor citizen percentage.

Meanwhile, within 3.5 years, President Joko Widodo succeeded in decreasing poor citizen percentage from 10.51% to 9.82%, or 0.69%. In terms of annual performance, the reduction of poor citizen percentage during his rule is 0.2% per year.

Figure 1 summarizes the annual performance data of governments in terms of reducing poor citizen percentage. It shows that Soeharto’s Government has the highest-level performance – if we exclude data from the 1997 monetary crisis. The annual performance of Megawati dan SBY’s respective administration have the same success rate. On the other hand, Jokowi’s Government shows the lowest level of achievement, at 14% lower than Soeharto’s annual performance rate and less than one third of SBY or Megawati’s annual performance rate.

Therefore, if the success claim is understood to be the result of Governmental work starting from the late ‘70s (from the time Indonesian Statistics data becomes available), the 9.82% (or single-digit) achievement was right. However, if it is understood to mean the success of the current Government, this fact is shy off the mark, as the results of 3.5 years of Jokowi’s administration are only equal to the results of 6 months of Soeharto’s administration.