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Gov't Pushes Various Development Programs to Close Inequality Gap

JAKARTA - The government has continued to try to close the country's wealth gap through various economic programs in a bid to push prosperity for all, an APEC Business Advisory Council, or ABAC, official said on Thursday (15/02).

The issue was brought up by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo during the ABAC dialogue with regional leaders at the 25th APEC Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, said Anindya Bakrie, the president of ABAC Indonesia.

Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Partnership (APEC) established ABAC in 1995.

Anindya attended the APEC Summit and applauded Jokowi's efforts to close the wealth gap through numerous development programs, such as through village funds, small and medium enterprises and the digital economy.

"President Jokowi has promoted Indonesia in his speech in front of 21 countries at the APEC Summit," Anindya said.

Despite significant growth in the global economy, inequality has been rising over the last five years, a report from charitable organization Oxfam International showed.

According to the 2018 World Inequality Report, the top 1 percent of the world's population represented 27 percent of the world's income growth in total from 1980 to 2016.

At the APEC Summit, Indonesia was heralded as one of the few countries that has made successful strides in closing its wealth gap for the past three years.

"Some of President Jokowi's basic ideas [of closing the wealth gap] will become ABAC Indonesia’s base of struggle in APEC post 2020, so an equilibrium between economic growth and fairness can be maintained for all countries in the Asia-Pacific region," Anindya said.

Anindya said the wealth gap is beginning to narrow largely due to the government's village fund program. Each village across the archipelago receives Rp 800 million ($59,110) per year. The total distributed village fund amounted to Rp 60 trillion last year.

The government has allocated Rp 120 trillion this year for its micro-credit program, known as Kredit Usaha Rakyat (KUR), higher than the Rp 106.7 trillion allocated for the program last year.

Meanwhile, the government also highlighted the development of the digital economy as it not only contributes to the country's growth but has also disrupted the economy, allowing more companies or businesses to be more innovative.

The president has also emphasized his plan to push for the development of the country's maritime sector.

Established in 1989, APEC is currently preparing a new initiative, in line with the 1994 Bogor Goals, for trade liberalization and investment by 2020.

APEC leaders established the Goals in Bogor, West Java, in 1994 to commit to open and free trade.