IO – Member of the House of Representatives’ Commission IV TA Khalid from the Gerindra faction has urged the government to provide a fuel subsidy to small-scale fishermen, so they can lower their operational costs and earn better income, especially in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. He argued that they need more stimulus assistance to keep up productivity and cushion coronavirus’ economic impact. He expressed this during a working meeting between the Commission IV and the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) Minister Sakti Wahyu Trenggono.
“Gerindra faction proposes that a fuel subsidy budget to be allotted to small-scale fishers through an effective, targeted, and tightly monitored mechanism in the distribution,” he said during the working meeting, which was broadcast online, Tuesday (9/2/2021).
According to him, the issue of small-scale fishermen’s access to fuel subsidies needs to be resolved immediately, because it is a major problem for them. His party often receives complaints from fishermen, such as the fuel scarcity problem which resulted in their inability to catch fish on a regular basis. If farmers are given fertilizer subsidies by the government, fishermen are also entitled to fuel subsidies, they analogized.
“Coastal fishermen often complained to us that they don’t have enough fuel supply. They hope the government can provide a special fuel subsidy for them, similar to the one given to farmers for fertilizer,” he remarked.
On the same occasion, Commission IV member Andi Akmal from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) faction urged KKP to assist fishermen on a more massive and comprehensive scale. “In the agricultural sector, there is feed and biofloc assistance. It is small but widespread. The previous minister also provided processing equipment for seaweed farmers at the cost of Rp14 billion each. They are now broken and unused. There are four of these in South Sulawesi, meaning around Rp70 billion is wasted. Imagine this! This means that in the future the community assistance programs should be small but focused,” he explained.
He used the low-cost seaweed ropes assistance as an example. Whatever the types of government’s assistance are, it is important to ensure that they are evenly distributed among the fishermen, he said. “I have never seen such a phenomenal program in the community. I am from South Sulawesi, the production hub for seaweed. Distributing seaweed ropes to 10,000 households is relatively inexpensive, but the impact was huge and it benefited the local community in many concrete ways. This is just an example. But the most important thing is that KKP should always be there to support the fis ing communities,” he concluded. (eka)