IO, Jakarta – The ever-increasing number of an aging population and the effort of all countries to improve economic growth were the focus of Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe in the recent G20 summit. The current and ongoing demographic bonus enjoyed by a number of countries means that there will be an explosion of the elderly in the next 30 years. Therefore, it is necessary that State officials prepare health and welfare protection for these incoming elderly people in order to ensure that they remain productive until the end of their lives.
How does the Indonesian government under President Elect Joko Widodo respond to this issue?
For the public, the issue is not interesting. It even holds lower interest than action on lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure. However, if we fail to make necessary preparations, the number of elderly people 71 years of age or older (currently some 24 million) will jump to 77 million by 2050. This is 25% of Indonesia’s total population. Unfortunately, data from the National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Alleviation (Tim Nasional Percepatan Penanggulangan Kemiskinan – “TNP2K”) of the Secretariat of the Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, indicates some 45% of the elderly live in households of the lowest 40% socio-economic status, and 67% of these live in extreme poverty and abandonment.
It seems that the second term of Jokowi’s government has failed to perceive a very real threat to Indonesia’s future. According to Prakarsa’s Executive Director Ah Maftuchan, even though the President Elect includes “HR development” in his vision and mission, there is no support for the elderly. The President-Elect prioritizes development of facilities for the needs of productive age group HR, such as ensuring the health of pregnant mothers and the health of children (babies, toddlers, and school-age children). “None of the documents that we have reviewed on the Jokowi-Ma’ruf vision and mission statement, or the Vision of Indonesia read out by Jokowi at the Sentul International Convention Center (SICC), contain anything about the elderly,” he said in a recent discussion on “The Welfare of the Elderly in Indonesia” held at Tjikini Lima, Jakarta.
The plight of the elderly also fails to be prioritized in the Draft 2019-2024 Short- and Medium-Term Development Plan. Therefore, Prakarsa pushes the Government to increase both the quality and quantity of social security and aid for the elderly. “The Government needs to increase the amount set aside for cash social aid to the elderly, to Rp 425,250.00/month/elderly person according to the national poverty line in March 2019,” he said.
Andi Hanindito, Director of the Elderly Social Rehabilitation of the Ministry of Social Affairs, also confirms the lack of Governmental support. He stated that the budgets for ministries and agencies, especially the Ministry of Social Affairs, are being cut. In other words, the Government is reducing its commitment towards social issues. “You can say that the elderly are seen only as a small, complementary part of the population. This is why we must continue to push the government to support them in the future,” he said. (Dan)