Remarks of President of the Republic of Indonesia During National Coordination Meeting on COVID-19 Response Transition and National Economic Recovery (PC-PEN) of 2023, A.A. Maramis Building, Jakarta, January 26, 2023
Assalamu’alaikum Warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
May prosperity be upon us all,
Greetings of virtue.
Honorable Coordinating Ministers, Ministers, Commander in Chief of the Indonesian MIlitary, Chief of Indonesian Police and all Chiefs of Staff attending the meeting, Chairperson and Members of Committee for COVID-19 Response and National Economic Recovery (KPC PEN), the Heads of Agencies,
Honorable Heads of Regional Governments, Governors, Regents, and Mayors attending the meeting,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank you all and all the government ranks from the Central Government to the village level governments who worked hard for three years in tackling the pandemic and rebuilding our economy.
It was an incredibly tough challenge, a very serious problem that we faced at the time, and there was no standard. No standard because it was unprecedented.
If we recall in the beginning [of the pandemic], I asked a question to WHO, to which they responded: “No need to wear masks, Mr. President, it is only for those who have a cough, who get infected.” Not more than a week, everybody had to wear a mask. They were actually confused and so were we.
Once the pandemic reached its peak, all countries were looking for personal protective equipment. All countries were looking for it, but it turned out that we could also produce it and even export it to other countries. All countries were so confused at that time.
However, our macro and micromanagement was very effective. Also, I see we all worked because of the pressure brought by the problem. I had not seen it before. So, based on the experience, if we want all of us to work, we should handle the pressure first. Pressure from problems, pressure from challenges.
When we were deciding whether or not to implement lockdown, during a meeting, 80 percent of the ministers [said], “Lockdown, Sir.” It is because all countries did it. Not only the House of Representatives, but also all parties suggested implementing lockdown.
Such pressures came up during the crisis, and if we did not think clearly and acted hastily, we could have made mistake. Imagine, if we decided to implement lockdown, I estimated within two or three weeks, the people could not survive and did not even have small chances to make a living. All access were locked and the country would not be able to help them. What would happen? Riots would break out. We had calculated that, so we decided not to implement lockdown.
I thought hard for three days to decide whether we should implement lockdown or not, because we really did not have any experience on this. We got pressure from the pandemic as well as the economy. Imagine, the state revenue plunged to 16 percent, whereas the expenditure must increase by 12 percent. How was it possible? These problems have brought vast experience to all of us, the governors, regents, mayors, the Indonesian Military and the Indonesian Police that handle issues of security, public order, and how to get the people vaccinated.
Furthermore, we have injected 448 million doses of vaccines. You can imagine, it was not easy to inject 448 doses of vaccines to the people one by one. Moreover, our geographic condition is also not easy, crossing mountains, seas, and rivers to reach the people to get vaccinated.
What does it mean? Such work really needs a good synergy and we could do it all. We could see that the Indonesian Military and Indonesian Police truly carried out the duty beyond their main tasks, visiting villages to get the people vaccinated is not an easy work.
Third, managing the implementation of the “hit and break pedals policy” was not easy. Once we miscalculated, the economy could collapse. Once the hit pedal was pressed too hard, the pandemic might also worsen. That was what we did to strike a balance between health and economy that put pressure on the state management. It was not easy.
Fourth, we had to make decisions and act fast. This was also not easy. To act fast in accordance with the available data was not easy. It was due to the fact that during the pandemic, we found out that our data was not reliable. Different ministries had different data.
However, the most supportive element was the enormous participation of the public in tackling the pandemic and the economy. We must appreciate this participation regarding that all of society elements provided their support.
Therefore, after public activity restrictions (PPKM) was lifted at the end of 2022, it was a transition period. We still have to be vigilant in making policy, especially on the economy which is currently in a very good position.
In the third quarter, it was at the rate of 5.72 percent and as Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga said, 5.3 [percent] year on year in 2022. If that is achieved, I think it is an incredible achievement for us.
That concludes my remarks on this auspicious occasion.
By saying bismillahirrahmanirrahim, today I declare the National Coordination Meeting on COVID-19 Handling Transition and National Economic Recovery of 2023 open.
I thank you.
Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.