Wednesday, July 29, 2020


Jakarta, July 29, 2020 (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) opined that handling of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic must be conducted concurrently with endeavors to facilitate recovery of the country's economy hard hit by the impacts of the outbreak. 

The economy is bound to bear the brunt when the focus is chiefly on health through the application of restrictions, while on the other hand, prioritizing measures to bring about an economic rebound by relaxing COVID-19 restrictions will further fuel the spread of the coronavirus disease. 

Hence, Jokowi has offered a midpoint strategy through his “brake and gas pedal” analogy at the right time for fine-tuning efforts to strike a delicate balance between handling the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery.

"In managing this crisis, the brake and gas pedal should be maneuvered in a way to really strike a balance. We cannot mainly use gas for economic interests but then our health gets neglected in the process. However, we cannot also concentrate fully on health aspects since the economy is collapsing," he pointed out.

To materialize his concept, Jokowi signed Presidential Regulation No. 82 of 2020 on the Committee for COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery on July 20, 2020.

The regulation is a manifestation of the "brake and gas pedal" concept voiced by President Jokowi to balance, coordinate, synergize, and integrate the COVID-19 handling and economic recovery efforts.

"This committee is intended to integrate health and economic policies that are often described by the president as (the vehicles’) gas and brake pedals, and both must be handled in a balanced manner," Minister of State Secretary Pratikno remarked.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Safeguarding Indonesian children from violence and COVID-19 by Fardah

Jakarta, July 25, 2020 (ANTARA) - The Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry observed National Children's Day (HAN), celebrated every July 23, with this year's theme: "Children are Protected, Indonesia is Advancing" and bearing tagline "Indonesian Children are Happy at Home."

HAN 2020 was commemorated amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that has compelled children to stay indoors and study from home, as their schools have remained shut since March 2020 following the government’s announcement of the country's first confirmed cases.

A total of 329 representatives from 34 provinces, 69 representatives of the Children's Forum, and 44 performers at the Happy Concert at Home took part in the celebration held via the Zoom application.

Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati Puspayoga, who led the virtual celebrations, pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic having restricted everyone's activities, though it had failed to dampen the Indonesian children’s enthusiasm to commemorate HAN 2020.

"Today is your day. Today, all Indonesian children must feel a sense of joy and happiness, although a pandemic is sweeping across the world," Puspayoga told the Indonesian children.

The minister, however, pointed out that several problems encumbering Indonesian children in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic range from parenting issues presented on account of either they or their parents having contracted the virus to a reduction in learning and playing times owing to being homebound.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Indonesia committed to simultaneously handling TB and COVID-19 by Fardah

Jakarta, July 22, 2020 (ANTARA) - Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelagic nation, with over 17 thousand islands and a population of some 267 million, is currently not only battling COVID-19 but also other ailments, including dengue fever and tuberculosis (TB).

Indonesia is ranked third for the incidence of TB globally. Some 165 thousand Indonesians succumbed to tuberculosis in 2017 and some 98 thousand people in 2018.

"I need to remind you that Indonesia is listed as the world's third-largest TB-burdened nations in terms of the number of sufferers after India and China," the head of state pointed out while chairing a limited cabinet meeting on the Acceleration of Tuberculosis Elimination at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, on July 21, 2020.

Furthermore, the high number of TB cases in the country are observed among people of the productive age group of between 15 and 55 years.

The president has reminded his ranks of Indonesia’s target to become free of tuberculosis by 2030.

In the path to achieving the target, the government remains committed to fighting TB in an integrated manner by involving several ministries and relevant institutions.

Houses that are not properly ventilated and fail to receive adequate sunlight, especially those in an overpopulated area, are among the factors triggering people-to-people transmission. Hence, not only the Health Ministry but also the Social Affairs Ministry and Public Works and Public Housing Ministry must partake in this TB prevention endeavor. To this end, the government will ensure the availability of medications for the treatment of TB.

The government is also intensifying the tracking of TB patients since out of 845 thousand people infected with this disease, only 562 thousand have been identified, thereby translating to the fact that some 33 percent are not registered.

Hence, the president threw his weight behind the simultaneous handling of TB and COVID-19.

"We already had a model for COVID-19 (handling), notably, by aggressively tracing those infected. We might use this COVID-19 (handling model) to also trace (those suffering from) tuberculosis," he explained.

UNESCO tag for Toba Caldera to boost N Sumatra tourism by Fardah

Jakarta , July 22, 2020 (ANTARA) - Located in North Sumatra province, Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake on Earth.

The ancient lake was formed as a result of a volcanic eruption 74 thousand years ago. The Toba eruption, which is the largest known volcanic event on the planet, produced a steep-walled caldera, which, over time, filled with water to form the largest of Indonesia’s lakes.

When viewed from space, the Toba caldera is one of the most striking volcanic craters on Earth, measuring an impressive 100 x 30 kilometers.

Lake Toba and Samosir Island, which is located in the middle of the huge caldera, offer a complete tourism package — with beautiful views, glimpses into the unique Batak culture and traditions, and an intriguing history.

The inclusion of the Tabo Caldera on the list of UNESCO Global Geoparks (UGGp) has been a proud moment for Indonesia. The inclusion was approved at the 209th Session of the UNESCO executive board in Paris, France, on July 2, 2020. Along with the Tabo Caldera, 15 other geoparks were also put on the UNESCO list, including the Cliffs of Fundy (Canada), Xiangxi (China), Hantangang (South Korea), Rio Coco (Nicaragua), and Granada (Spain).

"With this inscription, Indonesia can develop the Toba Caldera Geopark via the Global Geoparks Network and the Asia Pacific Geoparks Network, especially in connection with empowering local communities," Indonesian Ambassador to UNESCO, Arrmanatha Nasir, said in a statement released from Paris on July 8, 2020.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Government links food security to national defense by Fardah

Jakarta, July 16, 2020 (ANTARA) - The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has cautioned that the COVID-19 pandemic is posing a serious threat to food security and nutrition, and has urged governments and other stakeholders to build more resilient food systems.

As a precautionary measure, the Indonesian Government is developing a food estate project in Kapuas district and Belanti Siam village in Pulang Pisau district, Central Kalimantan province, under the National Strategic Program (PSN), which is to be implemented within the next three years.

In 2020, at least 30 thousand hectares of land will be made available for the project, and the land size will be expanded over the next two years.

The President has assigned three ministers — Defense Minister Prabowo Susanto, Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, and State Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir — to implement the program, with the support of other ministers.

The Ministry of Defense is leading the program to build food reserves and will be responsible for boosting resilience for food security.

"Yesterday, I told you that the food estate development is being conducted in response to an FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) warning of a global food crisis. Hence, we need to take precautionary measures quickly by preparing strategic food reserves," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) told the press on July 13, 2020.

Jokowi has justified his decision to task the Defense Minister with leading the implementation of the national food estate program.

"Defense does not only concern 'alutsista' (primary weaponry defense system), but also boosting resilience in the food sector, which is part of it (national security). The Defense Minister has already submitted the cost calculations and the amount of budget required to develop a food estate in Kapuas and Pulang Pisau," Jokowi said. 

"The Minister of Agriculture will back it (the project). Other agricultural and food related matters still come under the authority of the Agriculture Minister," Jokowi noted.

The food estate is not meant as a rice field opening program, but refers to the development of a food center, explained Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, spokesperson for the Defense Minister. 

The food estate will serve as a center for agricultural and strategic logistical reserves, which are crucial for supporting national defense. 

Besides rice, centers of other crops, such as cassava and corn, will also be developed, depending on land conditions, the Defense Minister’s spokesperson said.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Global community's growing chorus against Israel's annexation plan by Fardah

Jakarta, July 4, 2020 (ANTARA) - Israel did not proceed with its planned July-1 annexation of parts of West Bank and Jordan Valley, Palestine, amid fierce rejection by the international community, including its closest allies: the Great Britain, Australia, and Germany.

Vociferous oppositions also arose from the European Union (EU), Arab nations, and Asian countries, including Indonesia, which have been appealing to the international community to reject the plan since the start.

Palestine too has unitedly voiced its rejection of the plan. Both Hamas and Fatah have condemned Israel for attempting to grab more Palestinian land.

International organizations, including the UN, the Arab League, and the OIC, have also called on Israel to abandon settlement plans that run counter to the international laws and UN resolutions. Dozens of UN experts were apprehensive that the proposed annexation plan would create a “21st century apartheid”.

Indonesia, a staunch and consistent supporter of Palestine’s struggle for independence, has proactively kept up the pressure against Israel’s annexation plan through various international forums.

Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi sent letters to dozens of governments worldwide to garner support for the rejection of the plan on May 27, 2020.

“I have received positive responses from many countries, including South Africa, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, China, Japan, Russia, Tunisia, Vietnam, Egypt, Jordan, Ireland, and France, as well as from the UN secretary general and the OIC secretary general,” the minister stated in Jakarta on July 2, 2020.

Those countries mostly voiced their support to Indonesia’s initiative to urge the international community to prevent and reject the annexation plan. Moreover, they voiced the need to pursue a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A common concern is that the annexation would threaten regional and global stability while also impairing the effective mitigation efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier, Indonesia, along with Tunisia and South Africa, had initiated a ministerial-level meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to deliberate on Israel’s unilateral plan to annex Palestine.

Friday, July 3, 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.

After COVID shock, Indonesia moves to make health sector crisis-ready by Fardah

Jakarta, July 4, 2020 (ANTARA) - The coronavirus pandemic, which first emerged in China in late 2019 and then spread rapidly across the globe, has caught many countries unprepared, sparking an unprecedented crisis across the world.  

Lack of planning and preparation in dealing with the crisis has led to a loss of lives, including those of doctors and nurses fighting at the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle, often with inadequate personal protection due to shortage of critical medical and safety equipment, including masks, which are easy to produce and cheap in cost.  

As of July 4, 2020, the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has reached 11,219,696, with 6,363,696 recoveries and 529,601 deaths. 

In Indonesia, 62,142 people have been infected with the virus so far, with the number of patients recovering from the virus climbing to 28,219 and the death toll mounting to 3,089. 

As per data provided on May 6, 2020 by the Task Force for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Response, 55 medical workers — 38 doctors and 12 nurses — have succumbed to the infection in Indonesia.

In East Java, 86 doctors and 146 nurses have been exposed to COVID-19, said Dr. Sutrisno, chairman of the province’s Indonesian Medical Association (IDI). Thirteen doctors and 11 nurses have succumbed to the disease, he added. 

In South Sulawesi, Prof. Dr Syafri Kamsul Arif, spokesperson for the local COVID-19 response task force, said 70 health workers have contracted the virus, of whom, 60 percent have made a full recovery.

Wednesday, July 1, 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.