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Jakarta Post

In teleconferenced meeting, Jokowi orders govt to divert $2.66 billion to COVID-19 relief

  • Marchio Irfan Gorbiano

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, March 17, 2020   /   09:21 am
In teleconferenced meeting, Jokowi orders govt to divert $2.66 billion to COVID-19 relief President Joko Widodo holds a teleconference from Bogor Palace on March 16. (JP/Press Bureau of the Presidential Secretariat/Muchlis)

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed all ministries to limit their budget spending, so the money can be allocated to maintain people's purchasing power during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The instruction was conveyed during a teleconferenced Cabinet meeting on Monday, part of the administration’s efforts to encourage social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19.

"Budgets related to business trips and gatherings, [which should be suspended during the coronavirus threat], can be used to help the people [particularly low-income ones such as] laborers, farmers, fishermen, as well as micro and small enterprises," the President said.

He added that at least Rp 40 trillion (US$2.66 billion) initially prepared for business trips and officials' meetings, could be disbursed to the people to maintain their purchasing power.   

Jokowi also pinned his hopes on his flagship village fund program to maintain purchasing power. At least Rp 72 trillion of the funds could be used to prioritize labor-intensive public works projects or other productive programs, he said.

In addition to that, relevant institutions had also been asked to immediately start the disbursement of government social assistance to low-income households through the Family Hope Program.

The Social Affairs Ministry had allocated around Rp 31.3 trillion for the program this year, Antara reported.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called on governments worldwide to join forces and roll out aggressive financial support for the coronavirus-infected global economy, including direct payments to workers and businesses.

Given the "acute shocks" hitting economies, consumers and businesses, IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said, "policymakers will need to implement substantial targeted fiscal, monetary and financial market measures to help affected households and businesses".

The measures could include "cash transfers, wage subsidies and tax relief" as well as interest rate cuts and financial market support by central banks, she added.

The IMF has warned that the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak would slow growth in the world economy to below the 2.9 percent posted last year.

As of Monday, Indonesia had reported 134 confirmed cases of COVID-19, five of which ended in death. (vny/nal)

If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak