JAKARTA: An Indonesian minister on Wednesday (Feb 19) proposed for the rich to marry the poor as a means to reduce the country’s poverty rate.
“What happened if poor people are looking for other poor people (for marriage)? There will be more poor households,” said Mr Muhadjir Effendy, the Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister, according to Jakarta Post.
“This is a problem in Indonesia,” he added.
The minister said there are about five million poor households in Indonesia, which account for 9.4 per cent of the total households of 57.1 million.
If near-poor households are added as well, there are 16.8 percent or about 15 million households with low income, he added.
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Mr Effendy suggested to the Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi to issue a fatwa (religious rulings from Islamic authorities to provide guidance) ordering the poor to look for the rich (for marriage), and vice versa, the Jakarta Post reported.
In addition to that, he also proposed a pre-marital certification programme for couples who are not economically stable but wish to get married to sign up for an employment programme launched by President Joko Widodo.
The programme provides training to enhance the skills of the participants so they can find employment.
Such pre-marital programme, said Mr Effendy, would help push down the rate of new poor families in Indonesia.
According to the Jakarta Post, the World Bank reported recently that 45 per cent of Indonesia’s population, or about 115 million Indonesians, have yet to achieve economic security and the lifestyle of the middle class.
It however noted that Indonesia had made progress in reducing poverty over the past 15 years, having pushed it down to less than 10 per cent. The middle class also grew from 7 per cent to 20 per cent during this period.
In response, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which is among the Muslim organisations in charge of issuing fatwas, welcomed Mr Effendy’s proposal.
MUI secretary-general Anwar Abbas said it epitomised the spirit of helping each other, according to news website Kumparan.
"There are many poor families and sometimes there are widows left behind by their husbands. They have to raise their children while making a living.
“If there is a rich man who likes her, and she likes him as well, then great,” he said.
He added: "A poor family will be lifted to become rich, and the number of poor people will be reduced."
The minister’s proposal has two benefits, Mr Abbas said.
"(First), poverty will be reduced. Second, if realised, wealth will not just circulate (among the rich)."