Introductory Remarks of President of the Republic of Indonesia at the Limited Cabinet Meeting (Through Video Conference) on President Directives to Governors in Dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic, 24 March 2020 at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta
Date 24 Maret 2020
Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
Peace and prosperity be upon as all,
Greetings of Virtue.
Distinguished Vice President, Ministers, and Governors from all provinces who are attending,
This morning, I want to give directives on coronavirus or COVID-19. We know that, based on the reports that I have received from our embassies around the world, from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to date, COVID-19 has spread in 189 countries, 189 countries. So, the 3 newest countries in these two days that were affected were Syria, Grenada, and Mozambique. This shows that the COVID-19 is indeed a virus that has become a pandemic and in fact, very difficult to prevent, be it entering a country or entering a province, district, and city.
Therefore, in dealing with COVID-19, we all must have one vision, have the same policy. And I ask that every policy in the province be calculated, both the impacts on the health and the safety of our people and the socio-economic impacts that follow.
I will give an example; for example, a province or a regency and city want to make a policy to close schools, to close all offices, as well as to close all places of economic transactions such as market, please calculate this correctly, calculate correctly the existing socio-economic and health impacts. If you want to do that, the policy, after that is done please be really prepared. For example, a city wants to do that, calculate how many people become unemployed, calculate how many street vendors cannot go to work, calculate how many pedicab drivers cannot go to work, calculate how many drivers cannot go to work. Therefore, in the regional budget, supports for these sectors must be given. Social assistance must be prepared for them. We do not just close them without accompanying it with social assistance policies (social safety net) to support the policies made.
In essence, we want 3 things to focus on. First, safety is the priority, health is the priority. But, prepare the second, the social safety net, please provide the social assistance. Third, the economic impact should be calculated correctly so that our readiness in providing food stocks is truly on hand.
Then, why, someone asked me, why we do not impose the lockdown policy. I need to explain that each country has a different character, has a different culture, has a different discipline. Therefore, we do not choose that path. And that I have learned, I have the analysis such as this, from all countries, there are all of them. What are their policies, what have they done, and what are the results, this comes from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the existing ambassadors, we continue to monitor every day. So, in our country, the most appropriate one is indeed physical distancing, maintaining a safe distance. That is of the utmost importance. If we can do that, I am sure that we will be able to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, it requires a strong discipline, it requires strong decisiveness. Do not let those who have been isolated, I read the news that one of the isolated still helps neighbors to organize a celebration, there is one of the isolated still buying a mobile phone and shopping at the market. I think the discipline to isolate is the most important. Partial isolation, isolating a hamlet, isolating an urban village, important, but only with strong discipline. If we can do this… once again, I believe that the scenario we have chosen will provide good results.
And soon, I also want to announce the mitigation of the economic impact on society. I also need to say this to the Governors, I instruct this to all Ministers, Governors, Regents, and Mayors to cut spending plans that are not priorities in the State Budget or Regional Budget. Budget of official travels, meetings, and other expenditures that are not directly felt by the people must immediately be cut because our current fiscal condition suffers an uneasy condition.
Then, refocus activities and reallocate budgets to accelerate the handling of COVID-19, both related to health issues and social assistance to overcome economic issues. The legal basis is clear, last week, Friday, 20 March 2020, I have signed the Presidential Instruction Number 4 of 2020 on budget refocusing and reallocation. Once again, not only to handle the health of the people but also to handle the economic impact of the people through social assistance.
I also need to remind you that provinces/regions also need to monitor the availability of basic commodities and maintain people’s purchasing power. Please monitor carefully the situation of the workers, especially the daily workers, the farmers, the fishermen, and also these people who are first affected, the micro-entrepreneurs, small businesses, so that we can strive to maintain their purchasing power and ability to continue production. Therefore, in any activities in the provinces, regencies, and cities, please direct them so that these programs can all become the Cash Intensive Work Programs. This is to maintain people’s purchasing power. Cash Intensive Work Program must be multiplied, must be multiplied but must still follow strict health protocols to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
Soon, we will issue a policy for Staple Food Card recipients, over the next 6 months we will add Rp50,000 so that Rp200,000 (will be) received per beneficiary family. The budget that we have prepared is Rp4.5 trillion.
Then, the Pre-employment Card will also be immediately started, the implementation of the Pre-employment Card. We use this to anticipate workers affected by layoffs, daily workers who lose income, and micro-entrepreneurs who lose market or lose turnover. The budget allocation that we have prepared is Rp10 trillion. So, in order for the provinces to be able to support this, who are the recipients should be listed correctly.
Then there were complaints from micro (and) small businesses, we, yesterday, also spoke with the FSA, the FSA will provide a leeway, provide credit relaxation for micro (and) small businesses for credit values below Rp10 billion. Both the loan from the banks and the non-bank financial industry will be given a one-year repayment delay and a decrease in interest. I have also heard complaints from motorcycle taxi drivers, taxi drivers, who have motorcycle or car loans or fishermen who have boat loans. I think this also needs to be conveyed to them, to not worry because interest payments and installments are given leeway or relaxation for 1 year.
We also have calculated several scenarios, we calculated the predictions of this COVID-19 in our country, Indonesia. What it is like in April, what it is like in May, what kind of bad scenario, what kind of medium scenario, what kind of mild scenario. And I think we want us to be in a mild scenario. And if it is really hard to block, then we should at least only get into the medium scenario, do not get into the worst scenario.
We have also calculated the decrease in several provinces on resistance, on the decrease in income from each of the existing provinces. This is me talking a moderate scenario. For example, in the labor profession, in a moderate scenario, the worst one will be in West Nusa Tenggara, there will be a decline in income of approximately 25 percent. In our calculations, we will be able to survive in June to September. Then, for farmers and fishermen, please also be careful, in a moderate scenario, the worst hit will be in West Kalimantan. There will be a decline in income of up to 34 percent, with resistance in October to November. Then micro traders, small traders, if the scenario is moderate, the most severe is in North Kalimantan, with a decline in income of up to 36 percent and the ability to survive in August to October. Then, for public transportation and motorcycle taxi drivers, the most severe is in North Sumatra, the decline is up to 44 percent. These figures also need to be calculated in detail in the regions so that preparations for social assistance by provinces, regencies, and cities can really be prepared through what I have said before, refocusing and reallocation of existing budgets.
If we work in detail, we can follow it in the field, I believe now the people have started to move. The provinces have also, I see, done and worked well, both in spraying disinfectant, then disseminating how to keep a safe distance. I believe that the lightest scenario will emerge.
I think that is an introduction that I can say in this good opportunity.