Media Monitoring

Experts warn of turbulent 'new normal' amid COVID-19 data, testing issues

Thursday, 04 Jun 2020
Experts warn of turbulent 'new normal' amid COVID-19 data, testing issues
Experts warn of turbulent 'new normal' amid COVID-19 data, testing issues


Experts warn of turbulent 'new normal' amid COVID-19 data, testing issues
The Jakarta Post, p. 3; 

Experts and volunteers with the LaporCovid-19 (Report Covid-19) community movement have warned of a potentially tumultuous "new normal" period following the easing of large-scale restrictions (PSBB), pointing to the country's numerous issues in data gathering, testing capacity and risk perception.

These factors are essential to ensuring a safe post-epidemic environment for resuming economic and social activities.

LaporCovid19 spokesperson Irma Hidayana said on Sunday that Indonesia’s COVID-19 data did not live up to World Health Organization (WHO) standards. In particular, the government had not taken into account the number of deaths among suspected COVID-19 cases, which comprised the majority of coronavirus-related deaths in the country.

LaporCovid-19 had recorded at least 5,021 deaths among suspected cases by May 29, comprising 4,814 deaths among patients under surveillance (PDP) and 207 deaths among persons under monitoring (ODP). Along with the 1,503 deaths among confirmed cases, Indonesia's cumulative total was at least 6,232 deaths by May 29.

“Based on the data we gathered from 479 regencies across 34 provinces, the number of deaths among suspected [cases] have far surpassed the number of deaths among confirmed cases. Seventy-seven percent of all deaths [occurred] among suspected cases,” Irma said.


Restrictions to be concentrated in ‘red zones’
Koran Tempo; Media Indonesia, p. 5 

As Jakarta’s large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) imposition ends today, the Jakarta administration will be announcing whether the policy will be extended. However, in a number of meetings attended by district and subdistrict heads, the administration appears to be gearing up for the implementation of local-scale social restrictions (PSBL). The PSBL will concentrate restrictions on neighborhood units (RW) still categorized as ‘red zones’.

“The regulation from the governor [regarding the PSBL] has yet to be announced but we are ready,” said Tambora district head Bambang Sutarna on Wednesday. While awaiting administrative and technical details on the policy from Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, Bambang said subdistrict COVID-19 task forces had been disseminating information on the PSBL plans.

According to Jakarta Legislative Council (DPRD) member Syarif, up to 50 percent of the restrictions imposed by the PSBB will end today as the capital city eases into PSBL. The transition, Syarif explained, will be an attempt to transfer supervision and authority from the provincial administration to the COVID-19 task forces at the community unit (RT) and RW levels.


Additional funds for regional elections swell
Kompas, p. 2

The additional funds to be allocated for the 2020 simultaneous regional elections proposed by the General Elections Commission (KPU) ranges between Rp 4.5 trillion and Rp 5.6 trillion, with a maximum of 500 voters per polling station (TPS). A majority of the funds will be used for the procurement of personal protective equipment and to ensure that COVID-19 health protocols are followed.

Meanwhile, before the pandemic began, the allocated budget for the elections to be held across 270 regions had already reached Rp 14 trillion. However, Rp 9 trillion of that budget had not been used yet as the pandemic delayed the preliminary stages of the elections.

The proposed additional funds was submitted by the KPU and the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) in a joint hearing with House of Representatives Commission II, the Election Organization Ethics Council (DKPP) and Home Minister Tito Karnavian on Wednesday.

The large amount of additional funds required to hold the elections in accordance to COVID-19 protocols, however, has prompted many people to urge the government to postpone the elections until 2021.


Public services cannot falter amid pandemic
Media Indonesia, p. 3

The implementation of new normal protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic requires the readiness of all parties, especially public services. Executive director of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo), Danang Girindrawardahana, said the state civil apparatus must innovate to ensure that public services continue to run smoothly. One example, Danang said, was the participation of community groups in collecting donations for COVID-19 affected communities.

On the other hand, the government required more time to prepare budget allocations for COVID-19 response, as well as social assistance to be provided to groups vulnerable to the outbreak. “Community intervention and their initiatives are faster [in helping COVID-19 affected groups] because the government must go through longer bureaucratic procedures,” Danang said in an online seminar titled “Welcoming the New Normal in the Implementation of Public Services” held by the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry on Wednesday.


Papua internet ban unlawful
The Jakarta Post, headline; Koran Tempo, National; Republika, p. 2; Kompas, p. 3 

The Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) ruled on Wednesday that it was unlawful for the government to shut down the internet in Papua and West Papua during heightened security tensions caused by antiracism protests in the two provinces last year.

The panel of judges found that the government had violated the 1959 State Emergency Law by imposing the internet blackout after it failed to prove during the court hearings that Indonesia was in a state of emergency that required the authorities to shut down the internet.

The panel of judges also ruled that any policy that limited people’s right to information should be made in accordance with the law and not merely based on the government’s discretion.

“The court declares [the internet blackout] was a violation of the law by government bodies or officials,” presiding judge Nelvy Christin said in reading out the ruling during a livestreamed hearing on Wednesday.



Govt raises economic recovery budget to Rp 677.2t
Investor Daily, headline 

The Indonesian government has increased the national economic recovery program (PEN) fund to Rp 677.2 trillion (US$ 48 billion) from Rp 641.17 trillion to better cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PEN fund is allocated to five categories: health care expenditures (Rp 87.55 trillion); the social safety net (Rp 203.9 trillion); micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) (Rp 123.46 trillion); corporate incentives for both private and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) (Rp 44.57 trillion); and regional government support (Rp 97.11 trillion).

The social safety net program will receive the largest portion of the PEN fund as it is meant to drive up consumer demand, which should eventually benefit most players on the supply side of the economy. The program includes spending for the hope family program (PKH), food assistance, extended electricity discounts for poor families, cash assistance through village funds and the preemployment card program.  

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani also noted that the government would extend social assistance for poor families affected by the pandemic until December, instead of September, but it would cut the amount from Rp 600,000 to Rp 300,000 per beneficiary. The total budget for this social assistance is Rp 6.8 trillion for Greater Jakarta and Rp 32 trillion for the rest of Indonesia.

As a result of the additional budget for PEN, Sri Mulyani projected that the budget deficit this year would expand to Rp 1.04 quadrillion, or 6.4 percent of gross domestic product.


Mutual funds promising as market turns bullish
Bisnis Indonesia, headline 

Mutual funds may be seen as investment alternatives as the market turns bullish, with all mutual funds booking positive results in May although with funds under management decreasing. The value of mutual funds – as reflected by the Infovesta 90 Equity Fund Index – had improved 0.81 percent as of May 29 as the Jakarta Composite Index (JCI) increased 0.79 percent over the same period.

Fixed income mutual funds recorded the highest increase in value, by 1.71 percent according to the Infovesta Fixed Income Index, while balanced mutual funds recorded 0.86 percent growth. Money market mutual funds booked a lower growth rate at 0.36 percent.

According to the Financial Services Authority (OJK), mutual funds’ net assets stood at Rp 476.93 trillion in May, a decline from Rp 477.68 trillion in April and Rp 542.2 trillion at the end of 2019.

Infovesta Utama market research head Wawan Hendrayana said the decline in mutual fund net assets in May was a usual occurrence during Ramadan and Idul Fitri because the occasion prompted an increased rate of fund withdrawal.

To increase investor confidence, OJK stock market deputy commissioner II Fakri Hilmi said, the regulatory body had implemented preventive and corrective actions in their oversight of mutual funds, such as fund fact sheet standardization and strengthening the oversight of investment managers and mutual fund agents.


State losses from Jiwasraya corruption reach $1 billion
Kontan, p. 1 

The corruption trials of six defendants in the far-reaching graft case at state insurer PT Asuransi Jiwasraya began on Wednesday with state prosecutors arguing that the actions of the six men had caused state losses of Rp 16.2 trillion (US$1.12 billion).

Prosecutor Bima Suprayoga said the figure was based on an investigative audit by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) for the period of 2008-2018, when the six defendants allegedly colluded to defraud Jiwasraya.

Of the six defendants, three are former Jiwasraya executives: former president director Hendrisman Rahim, former finance director Hary Prasetyo and former investment head Syahmirwan. The other three defendants are all businesspeople and capital market players: Benny Tjokrosaputro, Heru Hidayat and Joko Hartono Tirto.

Bima said that, from 2008 to 2018, the three former Jiwasraya executives had invested a total of Rp 91 trillion in stocks, mutual funds and other investment instruments.

In the same period, the three Jiwasraya executives forged investment cooperation agreements with the three businessmen defendants to help invest Jiwasraya funds in stocks and mutual funds, many of them affiliated with the businessmen. The cooperation, according to the prosecutor, was not transparent and accountable.

According to the prosecution, the men invested the Jiwasraya fund in second-tier stocks and the investments violated certain regulations, including exceeding the maximum limit of 2.5 percent of a company’s listed stocks in circulation. They also invested the Jiwasraya fund in a number of mutual funds affiliated with the three businessmen.


Govt requires workers to save for houses
Kompas, p. 1 

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has signed Government Regulation no. 25/2020 on popular housing savings (Tapera), requiring workers to save for their future houses. Employers are also required to contribute to their workers’ housing savings.

According to the regulation, Tapera savings will be equal to 3 percent of workers’ salaries, with workers contributing 2.5 percent and employers providing the remaining 0.5 percent. Employers must register their workers with the Tapera management body (BP Tapera) within seven years of the issuance of the government regulation.

Indonesian Employers Association (Appindo) deputy chairman Johnny Darmawan said employers were not in favor of Tapera because it would add further financial burden to businesses and their workers. Johnny said employers were burdened with paying mandatory workers health and social security agency (BPJS Kesehatan and BPJS Ketenagakerjaan) fees, totalling 11 percent of their workers’ salaries every month.

Indonesian Workers Organization (OPSI) secretary general Timboel Siregar expressed pessimism about Tapera, saying that it would not make it easy for workers to get mortgages for their future houses because the government regulation did not give a guarantee but rather provided a bevy of rules governing loans for workers.

Timboel argued that under the current regulations of the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan), workers have been entitled to loans for housing, either to use them as down-payments for mortgages or to repair their houses.


Gojek secures Facebook, PayPal investment
The Jakarta Post, Headlines 

Technology giant Gojek has announced that American tech companies Facebook and PayPal have invested an undisclosed amount in its new round of funding, joining other high-profile global corporations such as Google and Tencent.

The funds will be used to focus on increasing digital economic growth in Southeast Asia, especially payment and financial services inclusion for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), said Gojek.

Gojek is the first Indonesian company to receive an investment from Facebook, with the social media company looking to create opportunities for businesses in Indonesia through its instant messaging service, WhatsApp.

Gojek has agreed to integrate PayPal into Gojek’s payment system, GoPay, giving GoPay users access to the PayPal network of 25 million merchants worldwide.

PayPal head of corporate development and ventures for APAC Farhad Maleki said that Southeast Asia was at a very crucial point in the process of digital adoption, which could create new opportunities to provide financial services to unbanked consumers.

While Facebook and PayPal have only recently invested in Gojek, Google and Tencent have been investors since 2018.