The government is advancing again the disbursement of preemployment cards for workers to Friday and is moving to prepare a third stimulus package in a broader effort to cushion the economy from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, an official has said
"Honestly, this is the momentum or right timing,” Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister secretary Susiwijono Moegiarso said in Jakarta on Tuesday.
“We are hoping that the preemployment card could become a solution for several sectors, like the tourist sector and its supporting sectors, which have started layoffs," he added.
The latest change is the third time the government has advanced the program's launch this year. The program was previously slated for launch in April in Greater Jakarta, which then changed to late March last week before the government advanced it to this week.
The preemployment cards aim to aid job seekers and laid-off workers by granting them access and funding to a broad range of training. The government expects the program to address skill shortages, which have become a real problem in the country’s workforce, as the education system has fallen short of producing graduates with the skills needed by the industry.
The program will initially be launched in three tourism-oriented regions, namely Manado in North Sulawesi, Bali and Riau Islands, where activities have been severely affected by the drastic drop in Chinese tourists amid the COVID-19 spread, Susiwijono said.
It will then be brought to West Java, East Java and Jakarta, where the workforce size is relatively large. He said the government would put forth online classes amid social distancing efforts.
On Sunday, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo called on people stay home to limit the novel coronavirus spread. The pneumonia-like illness has infected 172 people and killed seven in the country.
Susiwijono also said the government was discussing a third stimulus package that would include policies to support social distancing efforts, among other things.
"There certainly will be several regulations that we will roll out. We are preparing them," he said, declining to elaborate on the plan.
The government announced last Friday that it would allocate Rp 120 trillion (US$8.1 billion) from the state budget to stimulate the economy by providing tax incentives and subsidies for workers, businesses and families affected by the pandemic. It also announced a second stimulus package worth Rp 22.9 trillion, which includes individual and corporate tax breaks, as well as the relaxation of loan disbursements and restructuring requirements.
The new measures add to the first Rp 10.3 trillion stimulus package announced on Feb. 25, which provided mortgage subsidies for low-income families and fiscal incentives for travel-related industries.