From the Economist: Always with them (Poverty in Indonesia)
WHEN two scavengers died last week under a landslide at Jakarta's main rubbish dump, the extensive television coverage that resulted provided a too-rare glimpse into the plight of some of Indonesia's poorest people. And their ranks are swelling. After declining for six years the number of poor people has increased sharply. Some 39m, 18% of the population of 220m, are now officially poor, according to data just released by the government's statistics bureau, 4m more than in 2005.
Admirable though it is, this policy does not tackle the root cause of Indonesia's rising poverty. A report on the subject being prepared by the World Bank argues that artificially high rice prices are much more to blame than the effects of the fuel-price increase. This is because most poor people spend a quarter of their earnings on rice, which has risen in price by more than a third in the past year. Keeping domestic rice prices higher than international prices by severely limiting imports makes little sense, the World Bank argues. It claims that 75% of the poor earn their living from agriculture but that at least 75% of the poor are net rice consumers.