The accuracy of BLT (Cash Transfer Program) recipient data
Increasing the fuel prices was the government’s last-ditch effort to ease pressure on the national budget and to make sure that subsidies are accurately targeted ̶ subsidizing people, not goods. The three types of social assistance handouts mentioned above will be able to lessen the impact of this policy, keeping the poverty rate in check and maintaining the purchasing power of low-income households.
According to J. Susanto (2014) in “Impact of Economic Growth, Inflation and Minimum Wage,” inflation has a direct coefficient on the percentage of poor people. In other words, fuel price rise that triggers higher inflation is linked to a rise in the number of the impoverished.
This calls for social assistance as a form of social protection. In their research “The Role of Social Protection in Poverty Reduction in Pakistan: A Quantitative Approach,” Mustafa & Nishat (2017) concluded that social protection plays a significant role in reducing poverty.
The success of a social assistance strategy largely depends on the accuracy of eligible recipient data, to ensure that it reaches the intended target, so they can maintain their purchasing power. BPS itself noted that the impact of inflation from higher fuel prices can be mitigated, as long as the social assistance is distributed properly and right on target.
Of course, the social assistance should also be given on a regular basis because the impact of a fuel price increase is likely to continue through next year, as many experts predict that the Covid-19 pandemic and the global crisis would likely not end this year.
Kiendrebeogo, Assimaidou, & Tall (2017) in their research “Social Protection for Poverty Reduction in Time of Crisis,” found that during a crisis, countries with larger social expenditures have lower poverty rates compared to countries with smaller social expenditures.
Even though BLT distribution has been carried out every year, it still has many problems to address. There are several sticking problems that have yet been resolved: inaccurate data, a potential corruption risk, uneven distribution and lack of complaint channels.
The data used to determine eligible BLT recipients is based on the integrated social welfare data (DTKS) managed by the Social Affairs Ministry. Article 2 of Social Affairs Ministerial Regulation (Permensos) 3/2021 stipulates four stages of DTKS management, starting with data proposal, verification and validation, quality control/assurance, designation and use.
Nevertheless, reality on the ground shows that there are still many exclusion errors (eligible people excluded as beneficiaries) and inclusion errors (ineligible people designated as beneficiaries), duplicate data, to “ghost” beneficiaries.
BLT beneficiaries are proposed through village/sub-district meetings, by the Social Affairs Ministry, or self-registration via the SIKS-NG (Social Welfare Information System-Next Generation) application.
The three methods used can be biased and inaccurate. Even with SIKS-NG, not many people know about the app, and this process can be manipulated by ineligible people if field survey is not conducted.