Indonesia has raised its budget for the National Economic Recovery program to Rp 553.09 trillion (US$39.4 billion), increasing fiscal support for a country struggling to contain its coronvirus outbreak, a minister said on Tuesday.
“In plenary cabinet meeting and in other meetings, we’ve decided the size to be Rp 553.09 trillion. It means the government sees that economic recovery in 2021 needs a similar support than in 2020,” Airlangga Hartarto, Indonesia’s chief economic minister, told a business forum.
The previously approved budget for the program in 2021 was Rp 372.3 trillion, although authorities have said this may swell after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced he wanted to run the mass vaccination campaign for free.
In 2020, the government allocated Rp 692.5 trillion for the program, which included the upgrading of hospitals and provision of medical equipment and services to fight the pandemic, but spent only about Rp 579.78 trillion.
Indonesia is set to officially surpass one million coronavirus cases on Tuesday. The country’s figures for COVID-19 infections and deaths are some of the highest in Asia.
In his presentation, Airlangga unveiled plans to quadruple health spending to Rp 104.7 trillion.
The authorities have also increased the budget for social assistance from Rp 110.2 trillion to Rp 150.96 trillion.
At the same forum, Febrio Kacaribu, a finance ministry official, estimated the fiscal deficit for 2021 would be 5.7 percent of gross domestic product, unchanged from the ministry’s previous outlook.
Last year’s budget deficit was estimated at 6.1 percent of GDP, the widest in decades as Jakarta ramped up spending to help Southeast Asia’s largest economy weather the impact of the pandemic.
The economy suffered its first recession since 1998 last year. The government expects the economy to grow 5 percent this year, far better than a forecast contraction of 1.7 percent to 2.2 percent in 2020.