Minister urges lower birthrate

JAKARTA. National Development Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil said Indonesia needed a paradigm shift, including a reduction in the birthrate, to support national development.

“If we make too many children without producing sufficient resources to support them, we will create a disaster. The roots of the Arab Spring, Islamic State terrorism, and some tragedies in African countries are driven by young people that have aspiration but don’t have jobs,” Sofyan said on Thursday.

Among ASEAN countries, Indonesia has the fourth-highest fertility rate at 2.34. The three with higher rates are the Philippines (3.04) Laos (3.02) and Cambodia (2.86). The other ASEAN countries have rates below two, such as Malaysia (1.96), Vietnam (1.74) and Singapore (1.19). While India’s rate exceeds that of Indonesia at 2.48, China has successfully reduced its rate to 1.67.

After 1994, China – with its strict one family one child program – succeeded in pushing down the fertility rate below two. Indonesia’s rate since 2000 has been stagnant at 2.3 to 2.5.

Sofyan said that alleviating poverty “could be accomplished in an easy way; we could just transfer the money from the rich to the poor and the poverty rate would come down. But that would be merely a temporary solution; people would become dependable on that help later. We need to develop entrepreneurs who can create more jobs,” Sofyan said during the opening ceremony of the 2016-2020 Indonesia – United Nations Partnership for Development Framework (UNPDF).

Poverty alleviation is one of the key issues of the UNPDF, next to access to social services and social protection, environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation, good governance and equitable access to justice.

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