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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: Dems calls for cash assistance for poor families, lockdown

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, March 20, 2020   /   07:41 pm
COVID-19: Dems calls for cash assistance for poor families, lockdown President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (right) meets with then-Democratic Party joint election command (Kogasma) chief Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono -- now the party chairman -- at the State Palace in Jakarta on May 2, 2019. (Antara/Wahyu Putro A )

The Democratic Party has demanded that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration enforce a lockdown on urban areas as well as provide financial assistance to low-income households who might lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They need financial assistance through cash transfers, Bantuan Langsung Tunai [cash assistance program] or other social safety net programs. We need to maintain the people's purchasing power, especially the bottom 40 percent," Dems chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono said in a written statement on Friday.

The government must also ensure the availability of staple foods and prices, especially ahead of Ramadan and Idul Fitri.

Read also: Agus Yudhoyono elected as Democratic Party chairman

"Don't let the inflation rate get out of hand," he said.

Agus added that the government should impose a short-term lockdown in areas considered to be hotspots of the disease, despite the impact it could cause on the people and economy.

“Public health and safety should be prioritized above all else,” he said.

The government, he went on to say, should focus on urban areas considering the population density, saying he was worried that the number of detected COVID-19 cases in Indonesia would increase when it declined in other countries.

"Don't be surprised and late in responding to the virus."

Read also: Indonesian government prepares for worst, including zero percent growth, as COVID-19 hits

The government announced on Wednesday that it was finalizing a third stimulus package as it reallocated Rp 27 trillion (US$1.8 billion) to fund the healthcare system in fighting the pandemic.

It would reallocate up to Rp 10 trillion from the portion of the state budget that was set for ministries and institutions, as well as Rp 17.2 trillion in funds earmarked for regional administrations.

These resources, according to Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, would be useful for them in handling COVID-19-related issues immediately as part of the government’s plan to mitigate its effects.

She said low-income households and individuals working in the informal sector would be given financial assistance, although she did not provide further details.