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Jakarta Post

House, govt set to revise disaster law in light of pandemic

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, September 8, 2020   /   07:30 am
House, govt set to revise disaster law in light of pandemic Cleaning House: Firefighters spray disinfectant to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 at the House of Representatives in Senayan, Central Jakarta, ahead of a joint session of the legislature and a state address by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Aug. 14 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

The House of Representatives and the government have agreed to revise the 2007 Disaster Mitigation Law in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara, who was present at the hearing with House Commission VIII overseeing disaster and social affairs on Monday, said that the government would move forward to the next step of the deliberation process.

"We are ready to discuss it at further hearings,” Juliari said on Monday.

He added that the existing 2007 law needed revision since it had yet to include other prevailing regulations, hindering the government from responding quickly in time of disaster.

During Monday’s hearing, the commission also formed a working committee to discuss the bill led by Commission VIII chairman Yandri Susanto of the National Mandate Party (PAN).

Yandri said that the reason for the House proposing the revision to the 2007 law was to improve the country's disaster-mitigation efforts, as well as to ensure a quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read also: New bill mandates 2 percent state budget allocation for disaster mitigation

The draft revision would include some changes, including adding more roles for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), making adjustments related to regional administrations’ policies, as well as creating a new scheme of funding and management of disaster relief, he said.

The bill would also regulate the participation of businesses, international organizations and non-governmental organizations and communities.

“The government will follow up to make its problem inventory list as a response to the House's proposed draft bill,” Yandri said.

According to the draft bill, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post, the revision includes a provision that requires the funds allocated for disaster management to amount to 2 percent of the annual state budget.

As a country prone to disasters, Indonesia is still facing a significant gap between disaster-management needs and budget availability. This situation has resulted in massive budget reallocations when disasters occur.

Read also: House panned for working on non-emergency legislation amid COVID-19 outbreak

In financing Indonesia's COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the government announced in March that it would reallocate Rp 27 trillion (US$1.8 billion) from the state budget previously earmarked for ministries, state institutions and regional administrations to fund the healthcare system.

From 2017 to 2020, the BNPB’s budget has also been consecutively reduced. This year’s budget, for example, was only Rp 450 billion, a reduction of 26.7 percent from the previous year.

In addition to the 2 percent mandate, the bill also aims to strengthen the BNPB’s authority by allowing the agency to form regional task forces to accelerate disaster management and cut down on bureaucracy, in line with the agency’s plan to build disaster-management centers in several regions.