The Jakarta Post
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo reasserted the government’s commitment to prioritizing health concerns in containing the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Since the beginning, the government has been consistent in prioritizing health issues in issuing policies to handle the COVID-19 crisis. Once again, public health must be our priority,” the President said in a virtual press briefing on Saturday.
Along with the focus on health, the government is working to maintain and restore the country’s economy. Jokowi added that the government had disbursed a total of Rp 203.9 trillion (US$13.6 billion) for people affected by the epidemic.
According to the government, it had disbursed Rp 29.1 trillion to 10 million recipients through the Family Hope Program (PKH) as well as Rp 30.9 trillion to 19 million recipients of the national staple food program.
Authorities also disbursed Rp 4.4 trillion to 1.9 million recipients of the Greater Jakarta staple food assistance and Rp 24.7 trillion worth of social assistance to 9 million recipients outside Greater Jakarta.
The government distributed other aid through several programs, including the preemployment card program, cash aid from village funds, workers’ subsidy as well as free and discounted electricity.
The government has been slammed by several parties, including the Indonesian Ombudsman, for prioritizing economic recovery over public health in dealing with COVID-19, as it restarted economic activities in several regions in the country.
Many raised concerns that the country would run out of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients if cases continued to increase at the current pace. Health authorities confirmed a record daily high number of COVID-19 infections with 4,823 new cases on Friday.
State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, who heads the national COVID-19 response and economic recovery committee, said the government had taken steps to increase the capacity of testing and hospital beds , as well as the supply of medicine. (aly)