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Jakarta Post

House starts deliberation of job creation bill as protesting unions forced to stay at home

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, April 2, 2020   /   02:12 pm
House starts deliberation of job creation bill as protesting unions forced to stay at home Lawmakers take a picture together on the sidelines of a plenary session at the House of Representatives (DPR) in Senayan, Jakarta, on March 30. (JP/ Dhoni Setiawan)

The House of Representatives will begin its deliberation of the controversial omnibus bill on job creation despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The secretary of the NasDem Party faction at the House, Saan Mustopa, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that the House leadership had agreed to read the presidential letter to begin the bill's deliberation at a plenary session on Thursday.

"Yes, it has been decided in a meeting with the House's [steering committee] on Wednesday to announce [the deliberation] in the plenary session," he said, adding that the meeting had also been attended by representatives of all House factions and commissions.

However, according to Saan, the House leadership has yet to decide whether the bill will be handled by the House’s Legislation Body (Baleg) or a special House committee (Pansus).

Read also: House members lead campaign to donate salary to COVID-19 victims

“We’ve suggested that it be handled by the Baleg,” he said.

Speaking at the House’s plenary meeting on Monday, Saan said the bill was needed to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19.

“We need to prepare for [economic] recovery […]. We should start deliberating the omnibus bills on job creation and taxation to prepare for the post-outbreak situation. We need to recover quickly," he said.

House Speaker Puan Maharani, who is from Jokowi’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), has appeared reluctant to process the bill. Of the six political parties in the government coalition, the PDI-P has been the only one to urge lawmakers not to rush, citing public objections to the bill.

Responding to Saan’s statement, Puan said during Monday’s plenary session that the House would focus on emergency measures for COVID-19 at this time.

Read also: House ready to support 2020 budget revisions to account for COVID-19

Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) president Said Iqbal said deliberating the omnibus bill at a time like this showed that the lawmakers had no empathy for the people that currently were facing a difficult situation due to the pandemic.

He said the House should prioritize the coronavirus handling rather than the omnibus bill.

"The omnibus bill is not a solution to the layoff phenomenon following the pandemic. It’s not a solution for Indonesia's economic growth problem due to the pandemic too. It is clear that the omnibus bill is not being prepared to anticipate COVID-19,” he said.

Civil society organizations, major labor unions and student organizations had prepared for street rallies to protest against articles in the omnibus bill on job creation that — if passed — would harm labor rights, the environment and democracy. They also protested against the bill’s less-than-transparent drafting process.