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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: Indonesia bans face mask exports to cater to domestic demand

  • Adrian Wail Akhlas

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, March 13, 2020   /   02:05 pm
COVID-19: Indonesia bans face mask exports to cater to domestic demand A woman wearing a face mask uses hand sanitiser provided at a shopping mall in Bangkok on March 12. (AFP/Romeo GACAD)

Indonesia is set to temporarily ban exports of face masks to ensure there is a sufficient domestic supply amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said on Friday.

“We will issue a temporary export ban for face masks so the needs of companies and consumers are met,” Agus told a news conference in Jakarta. “The ban will be effective until we have a sufficient stock of face masks.”

Prices of face masks have skyrocketed in several parts of the country, as people stockpile protective supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer liquid, to protect themselves from the virus.

“If we have any excess supply [in the future], we will resume exports,” Agus said.

Read also: Two Malaysians arrested for alleged attempt to smuggle face masks from North Sumatra

He previously urged mask producers to halt exports of masks and prioritize domestic consumers amid a spike in demand in Indonesia. State-owned pharmaceutical company PT Kimia Farma has implemented rationing for face masks and hand sanitizer to ensure the products are available at all of its 1,300 stores nationwide.

The government has so far announced 34 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with one death. Globally, the pneumonia-like illness has infected more than 128,000 people and taken at least 4,700 lives.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said during the same news conference that the government had prepared Rp 1 trillion (US$67.63 million) for medical needs, including hospital preparation costs, laboratory tests and to cover medical costs for infected persons.

“The Finance Ministry will provide the necessary funds for COVID-19 handling, including for case tracking, coordination between the central government and regional administrations and the provision of face masks and hand sanitizer,” Sri Mulyani told reporters.

The government announced on Friday that it was allocating Rp 120 trillion from the state budget to stimulate the economy through tax incentives and subsidies for workers, businesses and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read also: Indonesia advances pre-employment card program to tackle pandemic impacts

It also announced a second stimulus package, worth Rp 22.9 trillion, that includes individual and corporate tax breaks as well as the relaxation of loan disbursement and restructuring requirements.

This is in addition to the first Rp 10.3 trillion stimulus package announced on Feb. 25, which was aimed at boosting household spending and provided mortgage subsidies for low-income families and fiscal incentives for travel-related industries.

The government will also speed up disbursement of social spending and funds for the pre-employment card program in the first quarter of this year.