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Rise in poverty-stricken Indonesians - govt

Written by: Staff

JAKARTA, Sep 2 (Reuters) The number of people living below the poverty line in Indonesia rose 11 per cent to 39 million in March from February last year due to higher fuel and rice prices, government data showed.

The data came as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged to use an anticipated pick-up in the economy to tackle poverty, partly blamed for religious radicalism and fragile social stability in the country of 220 million people.

''It's clear that this is because of the fuel price hikes and higher prices of rice,'' Rusman Heriawan, the head of the statistics bureau, told a news conference yesterday.

The bureau said two-thirds of those living below the poverty line lived in rural areas of the resource-rich country, which is among the world's major producers of minerals and commodities such as gold, copper and palm oil.

It set the poverty line at 152,847 rupiah per capita spending per month, or about 56 US cents a day.

It defined the poverty line at 129,108 rupiah for February last year.

The government more than doubled domestic subsidised fuel prices last year in a bid to reduce budget subsidies following soaring global prices. But the move pushed up consumer prices sharply, including the price of rice, the country's staple food.

Reuters SRS VP0505

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