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Jakarta Post

Preemployment card program resumes, prioritizing pandemic-hit workers

  • Dzulfiqar Fathur Rahman

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, August 8, 2020   /   07:46 am
Preemployment card program resumes, prioritizing pandemic-hit workers The website of the preemployment card program is displayed on a smartphone in this undated photo. The government will resume the preemployment card program application on Saturday, prioritizing people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Antara/Aditya Pradana Putra)

The government will resume the preemployment card program on Saturday and prioritize people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic after the program had been briefly halted following irregularities.

After the suspension in late May, the preemployment card program, which combines social assistance with upskilling, will raise the number of recipients it admits per batch to 800,000.

With the increase in admission, the government expects to cover 5.6 million eligible recipients by October, according to Rudy Salahuddin, the deputy of digital economy, employment and small and medium enterprises (SME) at the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister.

The program will reserve 80 percent of the admission quota per batch for workers laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic by prioritizing those listed in Manpower Ministry data.

“We have held a meeting with the Manpower Ministry and the Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) to clean up the data and look into the details of the laid-off and furloughed workers,” Rudy said in a virtual press briefing on Friday, adding that the ministry’s data covered 2.1 million people.

With an economy contracting by 5.32 percent year-on-year (yoy) in the second quarter, the government is confronted with massive job losses.

Around 3.7 million individuals have lost their jobs so far this year due to the pandemic, according to data from the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), a number that is expected to hit around 10 million by the end of the year.

With a budget of Rp 20 trillion (US$1.36 billion), the preemployment card aims to help pandemic-hit workers and small business owners by offering monthly assistance of Rp 3.5 million for four months to cover training costs and cash benefits.

Eligible recipients will only receive the monthly cash assistance after completing at least one course on either of eight partnering digital platforms, which include e-commerce giants Bukalapak and Tokopedia and online learning platform Skill Academy – a subsidiary of education technology company Ruangguru.

Preemployment card management executive director Denni Puspa Purbasari said five new digital platforms were interested in joining the program.

“We are currently doing the assessment on them,” said Denni.

The talks on new partnership emerged as the coordinating economic minister issued Ministerial Regulation No. 11/2020 to overhaul the program’s governance.

The new regulation aims to strengthen Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 76/2020 issued in early July and to solve irregularities found by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which include mistargeting, poor course curation and potential conflicts of interest.

The regulation prohibits partnering platforms from offering bundled courses or courses that are identical to similar ones available free-of-charge outside the program.

In response to the antigraft body’s findings, the regulation now does not allow digital platforms to sell their own courses on their own platforms. Instead, they must sell it on partner platforms.

Under the new regulation, the preemployment card management can revoke the eligibility status of a recipient if they do not spend Rp 1 million of the benefits to take an online course within 30 days upon receiving it.

The Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister’s new regulation also sets a cap of 15 percent on service charges digital platforms may take from training institutions.

The regulation also stipulates that applicants can now make offline applications by filling in a form at the Manpower Ministry or its regional offices to facilitate people without adequate internet access. The Manpower Ministry will be in charge of the offline applications.

“It will be implemented starting from the fourth batch and so on,” said Denni.