Jumat, 03 Juli 2020

Timely budget spending crucial for economic recovery amid COVID-19 by Fardah

Jakarta, July 3, 2020 (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) delivered a strong rebuke to ministers and leaders of state institutions over the slow handling of the COVID-19 crisis during a cabinet meeting on June 18 this year.

He ordered his aides to improve ministerial budget spending, noting that expenditure in the health sector has only reached two percent of the budgeted Rp75 trillion.

The President also highlighted the need for promptly disbursing social assistance and ensuring that micro-, small-, and medium-scale businesses receive the necessary economic stimulus.

“The atmosphere in the last three months and in the next three months should be one of crisis. ... I see there are still many of us who [are still acting] as usual. I'm annoyed," he said in a video released on June 28, 2020.

He expressed annoyance at the “lack of sense of crisis” among his ministers, and threatened to dissolve certain institutions or carry out a cabinet reshuffle, if necessary.

Jokowi has been repeatedly reminding ministers to move fast in spending their allocated budgets, including for MSMEs, the health sector, and providing social benefits for the poor, so that jobs can be created and the economy, which has been dealt a severe blow by the COVID-19 pandemic, can recover.  

 "I have ordered all ministries and institutions to spend the existing budget, and I am monitoring it every day," Jokowi said on June 30, 2020.

The President said he has been keeping tabs on the budget disbursals of each ministry and state agency on a daily basis.

The head of state highlighted the need to expedite budget disbursals by ministries to increase money supply and stimulate the economy.

Rabu, 01 Juli 2020

Indonesia strives to win tourist confidence amid COVID-19 by Fardah

Jakarta, July 2, 2020 (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government is taking steps to build tourist confidence, considered vital for the successful recovery of the tourism sector, by putting stringent health protocols and screening guidelines in place for regions planning to reopen to tourists. 

As it gears for the implementation of the new normal, the government is making efforts to ensure only those regions which report a low COVID-19 transmission rate, backed by scientific data, are allowed to proceed with their plans for receiving tourists, and that too under strict protocols advised by the World Health Organization (WHO).    

"We must not push to apply a new normal while it is, in fact, not possible based on the (COVID-19 cases) data. Do not force it. Hence, the stages must be prepared," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said on June 29, 2020. 

As parts of the efforts to regain tourist confidence, the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry has formulated and socialized health protocols, dubbed Cleanliness, Health and Safety (CHS) protocols.

"Indonesia's success in handling COVID-19 can be a consideration in building the nation’s brand. Hence, a synergy between ASITA (Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies) and representatives of market countries is needed to boost tourist confidence," Nia Niscaya, deputy of the marketing division of the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy said on June 28, 2020.

Learning from several countries that have managed to recover from the COVID-19 outbreak, the ministry plans to first focus on the domestic market.

The ministry plans to launch a campaign dubbed #DiIndonesiaAja (#JustStayInIndonesia) targeting the market segment of families, couples, individual tourists, or fully independent travelers (FIT), and the government.

A digital prescription for MSMEs amid COVID-19 by Fardah

Jakarta (ANTARA) , July 2, 2020 - Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), the backbone of the Indonesian economy, have been particularly vulnerable to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic owing to transport, and supply and demand chain disruptions, and restrictions on movement of people. 

To help them survive amid the near economic collapse caused by the pandemic, the Indonesian government has announced a major economic stimulus package for MSMEs.    

According to Teten Masduki, Minister of Cooperatives and Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs), as much as Rp735 trillion of funding has been allocated for MSME revival.

"We are optimistic that if the Rp735 trillion is channeled for the MSME (revival) budget, the economy can be reactivated," the minister said.

The government, institutions, and state-owned enterprises budget for MSMEs is expected to help boost the national economy. 

"We have to maintain (MSMEs) as our market is rather significant with 250 million people (being served by such businesses). If there is commitment among the people to buy from MSMEs, it will increase the demand for (products made by) MSMEs, he said.

The ministry has granted relaxations on MSME loans through installment delays, credit subsidy, tax amnesty, and provisions for new, more affordable capital for MSMEs to ensure their productivity is maintained. 

At present, the Cooperatives and SME Ministry is preparing a digital catalog and a page specifically for MSMEs with the help of the Government Institution for Provisions of Goods and Services (LKPP).

Indonesia had 64.1 million MSME businesses, as of the first half of 2019. Of the total figure, 63.3 million, or 98.6 percent, are microbusinesses. Of the total MSMEs, only about 13 percent, or 8.3 million, have capitalized on digitalization to conduct their businesses.

Selasa, 30 Juni 2020

A deep sense of humanity for Rohingya prevails in Aceh by Fardah

Jakarta (ANTARA) , July 1, 2020- The smiles are again back on the faces of Rohingya children after being rescued from a sinking boat and currently being accommodated in an abandoned immigration building in Blang Mangat, Lhokseumawe, Aceh.

The 35 Rohingya children are part of the total 100 Rohingya refugees, who were rescued by three Aceh fishermen -- Faisal, Abdul Aziz, and Raja -- on hearing their audible cries after their damaged boat began sinking in the Malacca Strait waters. 

The three fishermen moved the refugees, including 48 women, to another boat and pulled them near the North Aceh shore on June 24, 2020.

The local authorities, petrified of the spread of the COVID-19 disease, prevented the refugees from disembarking and pushed the boat back to sea after giving them food and drinking water.

The local villagers were moved at witnessing the plight of children and women crying for help while their boat was pushed back from Lancok Beach in Syantalira Bayu Sub-district, North Aceh District, and attempted to reason with several officers. They insisted that the refugees be allowed to disembark on Aceh land.

In the afternoon of June 25, amid extreme weather, strong winds, and dark cloudy skies, several villagers took it upon themselves to evacuate the refugees without awaiting the authorities’ approval.

“We will pull the boat back and feed them here,” Nasruddin, one of the villagers, stated.

With a strong sense of humanity and empathy, the villagers took the bold move, as there were infants, children, and old women aboard the boat. 

Jumat, 26 Juni 2020

COVID-19 ADDING TO CHALLENGE POSED BY FOREST FIRES By Fardah

Jakarta, 27/6/2020 (Antara) - With Indonesia still in the grip of the coronavirus, which is known to cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), forest fires and the associated smog could potentially spell a double disaster, suffocating people and animals.

Wildfires are normally known to occur every year on Sumatra and Kalimantan islands during the dry season. They often produce smog that can shroud neighboring countries, particularly Malaysia and Singapore.

This year, the peak dry season is forecast for August and September.

During a limited cabinet meeting chaired by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in Jakarta on June 23, 2020, Doni Monardo, chief of the Task Force for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Response, cautioned that heavy smoke from forest and land fires, especially peatlands, could adversely impact public health and increase risk of people contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

"Heavy smoke can pose a health threat to the community, particularly those ailing from asthma or ARI (acute respiratory infection). The impact could be dangerous for asthma patients when exposed to COVID-19," Monardo said.

Hence, Jokowi has ordered his ministers to take precautionary steps against forest and land fires, Monardo added.

He stressed the need for closer cooperation between all sections of the community in all regions to mitigate forest and land fires, particularly in fire-prone areas.

ON JAKARTA ANNIVERSARY, A 'PRESENT': PANDEMIC SHOWING SIGNS OF SLOWING by Fardah

Jakarta, 27/6 , 2020(Antara) - There has been no grand celebration to commemorate Jakarta's 493rd anniversary this year as the Indonesian capital has been preoccupied with the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there has been cause for cheer thanks to news of Jakarta finally managing to bring the infection relatively under control. According to a UI report, the effective reproductive number (Rt) for the city has slid to 0.98 in June this year from 4 in March.

"(I have just received) a report from the team of the Public Health Faculty of the University of Indonesia (UI) that shows that during the past two weeks, under the transition period, the outbreak has been brought under control," Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan remarked during a modest commemoration ceremony at the city hall on June 22, 2020.

Home to a population of around 11 million, Jakarta emerged as the country's first COVID-19 epicenter, following President Joko Widodo's announcement of Indonesia's first confirmed cases on March 2, 2020.

On March 16, prior to the governments enactment of large-scale social distancing measures, Jakarta recorded its highest Rt of 4, while the threshold is 1, based on the assumption that every 100 people infected with COVID-19 would transmit the disease to 400 others.

On April 10 this year, the figure dropped to 1.5, and currently, it has dipped below one, thanks to the hard work put in by all Jakartans, Baswedan said.

"This is such a present for Jakarta's people as we celebrate the anniversary, since the pandemic that was rampant is currently being brought under control," he remarked.

On June 24, 2020, Jakarta added 195 fresh COVID-19 cases, bringing its total count of confirmed cases so far to 10,472.

The capital city registered 112 recoveries and three deaths the previous day, Fify Mulyani, head of Jakarta's Public Health Office, said.

The metropolitan city has so far registered 5,434 recoveries, while the death toll has been recorded at 631, she noted.