Jakarta — The Indonesian government has doubled its budget for a program to develop irrigation systems in country areas which is also intended to more jobs for grass roots communities. The Irrigation System Acceleration Program (P3-TGAI) has existed since 2013 and employed tens of thousands of workers last year. It has a total budget of Rp 600 billion (US$45 million). This year the budget has increased to Rp 1.1 trillion and the program is expected to create 62,400 new jobs. President Joko Widodo, accompanied by Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, visited Dukuhlo village in Tegal, Central Java, on Monday (15/01) and Kersanagara village in Tasikmalaya, West Java on Tuesday, to inspect the program. “The progress of this year’s program has been fast, even though it had just kicked off a week ago,” Jokowi said in a statement on Wednesday (17/01). Jokowi hopes the program will reduce unemployment especially in country areas. Indonesia had 10,000 new unemployed workers last year, bringing up its total unemployment number to 7.04 million or up 5.5 percent of the country’s workforce, a job creation failed to catch up with growing population entering the workforce, according to the latest available data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) published in 2017. “P3-TGAI targets 5,000 spots in 34 provinces to build new irrigation systems or repair existing ones. Each spot will receive Rp 225 million,” Minister Basuki said in a statement. The program pays each worker between Rp 80,000 and Rp 110,000 per day and provides construction jobs, each one lasting around 50 days to farm workers who typically need other jobs between rice planting harvest seasons. Jokowi said P3-TGAI is a government program to minimize purchasing power parity in Indonesia’s under-developed regions. The Public Works and Housing Ministry allocates Rp 11.28 trillion this year for labor-intensive infrastructure programs. Aside from P3-TGAI, the ministry also has programs to build houses for the poor, protect environment in residential areas and repair public infrastructures including bridges and roads. These programs are expected to create 263,000 jobs this year.