Since the first case of the corona virus was identified in Wuhan, China 10 months ago, the Covid-10 pandemic is still ongoing. New cases are reported every day in various countries around the world. Launching data from the Worldometers page, Monday (19/10/2020), the total number of Covid-19 cases is currently more than 40 million cases. Of these, there have been 1.1 million deaths and more than 30 million patients have been declared cured.
The increasing number of Covid-19 cases affects not only the health sector but also the economic sector. The pandemic caused lags in economic activity which automatically forced many business actors to undertake efficiency to reduce losses. As a result, not a few workers were dismissed or even laidoff. This has led to an increase in the poverty rate.
According to the World Bank, as reported by the BBC, Thursday (8/10), due to the Covid-19 pandemic, extreme poverty is predicted to increase this year, experienced by around 115 million people. This increase has been recorded for the first time since 1998 or over the last two decades. At that time, the financial crisis in Asian countries rocked the global economy.
The World Bank also noted that in 2021, the number of extreme poor people will increase to a total of 150 million people. In fact, before the pandemic, the extreme poverty rate was estimated to fall to 7.9% in 2020. But the poverty will actually affect between 9.1% and 9.4% of the world's population this year. This percentage appears in the World Bank's Joint Poverty and Wellbeing Report.
Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than US$ 1.90 a day. According to the World Bank, in Indonesia, the extreme poverty rate is estimated to be 3% in 2020. Meanwhile, the Central Statistics Agency -BPS recorded the number of poor people in Indonesia reached 26.42 million people in March 2020. With this number, the poverty rate in Indonesia is equal to 9.78 percent of the total national population.
To alleviate poverty amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indonesian government has made various efforts through the National Economic Recovery program, such as by distributing social assistance and non-cash food assistance to the community and funding the Pre-Work Card amounting to Rp 20 trillion. Through the Pre-Employment Card, people who do not have a job can receive guidance and training. The government also provides subsidies for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and the placement of government funds in the banking sector as assistance for business actors.
All of the efforts made by the Indonesian government are in line with the theme of World Poverty Eradication Day which is commemorated on 17 October 2020, namely "Acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all".
Hopefully, the efforts made by the Indonesian government can reduce poverty even though it is impossible to eliminate it. At least, the poverty rate in 2021 can remain at the rate estimated by Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani, which is 9.2 to 9.7 percent.