Raskin – the 2002 food program

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In preparation for the 2002 phase of the program, an attempt was made by

Bulog to revisit the targeting issue and fi nd a solution to the problems that

had prevented many of the nation’s poorest families receiving the benefi ts

of the subsidized rice program. Some of the changes that were agreed upon

were simply ‘window-dressing’: the name of the program was changed to

emphasize the fact that the cheap rice was really intended only for the

poorest families (Raskin, abbreviated from Beras untuk Keluarga Miskin or

Rice for Poor Families). This message was reinforced by a limited national

television advertising campaign.

Other more radical approaches to targeting were considered but failed

to win suffi cient political support.31 In essence, the basic principles set

out in the 2002 offi cial program guidelines were little different from the

earlier versions of the subsidized rice program (Badan Urusan Logistik,

2001). The Raskin program returned to the formula of 20 kg of rice for

poor families every month at Rp 1000 per kg, but it is worth noting that

central government planners had passed the ultimate responsibility for the

selection of the recipient families down to decision-makers at the village

level. The Bulog program guidelines simply stipulated that the determination

of actual benefi ciaries should be made with reference to the BKKBN data

on those families classifi ed as KPS ALEK and KS-1 ALEK, but that this

matter was to be the subject of a process of discussion and consultation

involving village offi cials, community leaders and representatives of the

wider village community.

Nevertheless, although village decision-makers were given authority over

the actual composition of the lists, the program guidelines stipulated that

they were also expected to work within the limitations of the ceiling or

quota of rice that each village would receive. Every village was to receive

a specifi c monthly allocation of rice that was intended to supply a fi nite

number of families with a 20 kg allotment, and so the total number of

families to be listed by each village as recipients of the Raskin program

should not exceed that number.

Under the 2002 Raskin program, a national level quota was determined

after consultation between Bulog and other government agencies, in

particular the Ministry of Finance and the National Planning Board

(BAPPENAS), drawing on data from both the Central Bureau of Statistics

(BPS) and BKKBN. It was estimated that this quota was suffi cient to

provide a 20 kg monthly allocation of rice to just over 9 million families

– roughly 19 per cent of the total number of families in the country. The

central government decided upon the quotas for each of the provinces,

calculated proportionally according to the BKKBN data on KPS ALEK

and KS-1 ALEK, and every provincial government was asked to determine

the quotas for each kabupaten and kota within its area of jurisdiction, again

drawing on BKKBN data. Finally, at the kabupaten and kota level, the local

administration was given the task of deciding on the exact quotas for each

of the distribution points within their region.32

Offi cial records indicate that Bulog and its branches in the regions had

succeeded in improving the distribution system, so that an impressive tonnage

of rice was delivered on a monthly basis to over 44 000 distribution points

throughout the archipelago during 2002. However, achieving satisfactory

targeting of the program so that the rice really reaches the poorest and most

needy sections of the community is a far more intractable problem.

A complete analysis of the targeting effectiveness of the Raskin version of

the subsidized rice program has not been possible, since there have been no

available data comparable to the February 2000 SUSENAS Special Module.

Nevertheless, some indication can be derived from the only study to date, a

rapid appraisal conducted in 2002 based upon fi eld studies in ten villages

located in three districts in two sample provinces (Hastuti and Maxwell,

2003). The study was a wide-ranging and detailed examination of all aspects

of the program, and particular emphasis was given to the issue of who was

receiving the rice in the villages that were surveyed, and the precise quantity

of the monthly allocations obtained by benefi ciaries.

It is apparent that there was once more a considerable amount of program

leakage: although many poor families were able to secure some of the

benefi ts of the program, far too many of the non-poor members of village

communities also managed to obtain a share of the subsidized rice delivered

to the village distribution points. Consequently, many more families were

still participating in the Raskin program than was ever intended by the

central government planners at Bulog. The evidence from the villages in the

survey area suggests that the actual number of recipients amounted to about

double the target number that was decided upon when national, provincial

and district quotas were established in late 2001 using the BKKBN data.

This estimate was confi rmed by those local government offi cials who were

responsible for conducting the monthly rice distribution at province and

district level, especially as some of these offi cials had been collecting their

own statistics about the actual number of families receiving Raskin rice in

an attempt to verify what had actually been occurring.

At the local level, the precise details of how the distribution to benefi ciaries

was conducted varied from village to village and depended on a range

of local factors, but two main trends stand out. Firstly, in one group of

villages any attempt at targeting particular families had been abandoned

and the Raskin rice was being offered to all families more or less equally

on a ‘fi rst come, fi rst served’ basis, so that any family who wished to do so

was able to purchase rice irrespective of any assessment of their real need.

Secondly, in another group of villages, although the rice was being allocated

to a signifi cantly larger group than those identifi ed by the BKKBN lists,

an attempt had been made to identify all families considered to be the

most deserving cases, and once this list had been compiled, to limit the

distribution to those benefi ciaries (Hastuti and Maxwell, 2003: 26–33).

Where villages were no longer making any effort to target the distribution

of Raskin rice, local offi cials argued that this was a result of community

pressure and the threat of communal confl ict. In those villages where

an attempt had been made by village offi cials and community leaders to

produce their own local solutions to the diffi cult targeting problem, there

had been widespread opposition to the strict application of BKKBN data

on poor families. Many of the objections that were raised appeared to be

sound and justifi able criticism. In any case, the size of the village allocations

– which were a direct result of the quota decided upon by the central

government – were insuffi cient to include all those families in the KPS

ALEK and KS-1 ALEK categories. Consequently even in the villages where

local targeting had not been abandoned, villages had decided upon a fi nal

number of benefi ciaries that was much greater than the target number set

by the government, and so benefi ciaries were usually receiving considerably

less than the target of 20 kg.

Despite the powerful arguments in favor of villages making their own

decisions about which families are most in need of this assistance, it remains

a matter of concern that a large amount of the subsidized rice was being

accessed by families for whom it was clearly not intended. This was most

evident in those villages were the rice was made available to anyone on a

‘fi rst come, fi rst served’ basis. But it was apparently also occurring in those

villages where the poorest families had often had diffi culty collecting the

required amount of cash in the limited time allowed them by local offi cials

before the rice was delivered and the distribution was completed.

In some villages, the subsidized rice had been distributed to such large

numbers of recipients that the actual amount of rice received had been

reduced to only a few kilograms. In these cases, the local targeting had been

so distorted that the program’s central aim of providing a certain degree of

food security and a useful indirect income transfer to the poorest sections

of the community was clearly a lost cause.

During 2002, the operation and implementation of the Raskin program

at the village level was still largely under the direct jurisdiction of a small

group of village offi cials, with the village head in a dominant position

of authority. Although the reform of village-level political institutions

throughout the country is now underway, the new institutions have not yet

had any experience with the implementation of social welfare programs.

Nor are these yet able to provide a check on the power and authority of

program implementers at the village level, although this may happen in the

future. At present, the direction of a program such as Raskin is still largely

in the hands of the village heads and their staff. The personal qualities and

capacities of these village offi cials seem to have a direct bearing on whether

local communities are successful at solving the targeting issue and arriving

at an acceptable solution that ensures that the benefi ts of the program are

really directed at the poorest sections of the community. In those villages

where local offi cials are people of integrity and honesty, where they have

a solid grasp of the central purpose of the program, and where their own

reputation and standing within their community is secure, the chances of

successful targeting occurring followed by effective implementation seem

to be immeasurably strengthened.

The targeting issue is fundamental to the success of a program such as

Raskin. Yet it seems that there are no simple solutions. To some extent,

effective publicity campaigns and careful monitoring may also have some

impact on village-based decisions about the targeting of such a program.