Indonesia’s Widodo pledges jobs to win back votes

Agence France-Presse
The former Jakarta governor proposes to transfer land ownership to the heads of 4.5 million families and increase the salaries of civil servants, military personnel, and police over 5 years

IN DEEP THOUGHT. Indonesian presidential candidate from the Indonesia Democratic Party for Struggle, Joko Widodo, at the third debate among candidates in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 22, 2014.  Photo by Adi Weda/EPA

BANDUNG, Indonesia – Indonesian presidential hopeful Joko Widodo on Thursday, July 3, unveiled a plan to tackle poverty and create millions of jobs, in a bid to win back ground from ex-general Prabowo Subianto who is rapidly closing in.

Jakarta Governor Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi, for a long time looked to be on an easy path to victory at Wednesday’s vote to become the next leader of the world’s third biggest democracy.

But a huge poll lead he enjoyed several months ago has dwindled to just a few percentage points, and pollster Roy Morgan this week said the race was now “too close to call.”

In a bid to revitalize his flagging campaign, which has been criticized as disorganized and lackluster in comparison to Prabowo’s, Widodo announced new proposals to help the millions in Indonesia who live in poverty.

Unveiled at a campaign event in Bandung, on Java island, the plan included the creation of 10 million jobs over 5 years, with a focus on small- and medium-sized enterprises, and the digital and creative sectors.

The plan, outlined in a policy document, included proposals to transfer land ownership to the heads of 4.5 million families, and gradually increase the salaries of civil servants, military personnel, and police over 5 years.

And if Indonesia manages to achieve annual growth of 7%, Widodo’s government would “increase the budget for poverty eradication to include a subsidy of one million rupiah ($84) per month for poor families,” according to the document.

Widodo’s camp had already released an election manifesto – but it was criticized as too long and unfocused.

The 53-year-old won legions of fans during his time as Jakarta governor with his common touch, and is seen as a break from a series of recent leaders with deep roots in the era of dictator Suharto.

In contrast, Prabowo was a leading military figure during Suharto’s long rule, who has admitted ordering the abduction of democracy activists in the months before the dictator was toppled. – Rappler.com 

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