Highlights in the media today: Agriculture Ministry plans to mass-produce ‘antivirus necklace’, Jakarta instructs civil servants to control wet markets, businesses grow increasingly anxious as government yet to disburse promised funds.

The Agriculture Ministry plans to release a eucalyptus-based “antivirus necklace” that Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo claimed can help prevent COVID-19 transmission. The “antivirus necklace” was “invented” by the ministry’s Health Research and Development Agency (Balitbangtan) and will be mass-produced next month, he said.

Balitbangtan Head Fadjry Djufry said that prototypes of the eucalyptus-based inventions had been used by COVID-19 patients. He claimed that the results showed high rates of recovery.

Despite the claims, experts are deeply skeptical, saying that there is no scientific evidence that such products can fend off the virus. Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology Deputy Director Herawati Sudoyo said that the research on eucalyptus was still at the basic level of molecular modeling and had not been peer reviewed.

As of July 6 16:32 (GMT+7), Indonesia had confirmed 64,958 COVID-19 cases with 29,919 recoveries and 3,241 deaths.

The number of confirmed cases in Jakarta continues to increase. On Sunday (July 5), the province recorded 265 new cases, which brought the tally to 12,295 cases. According to a survey involving 154,417 valid respondents, the risk perception index of COVID-19 among Jakartans was low.

The administration has instructed 5,000 civil servants to enforce health protocols in wet markets. Jakarta Employment Agency (BKD) Head Chaidir explained that civil servants from all agencies and bureaus have been tasked to monitor 154 markets. The civil servants will conduct their duties from June 6 until the end of the transitional large-scale social restrictions (PSBB).

Businesspeople are becoming increasingly anxious as they await promised working capital loans from the government. Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) Chairman Rosan Roeslani said that the government’s stimulus program was moving too slowly and urged banks to disburse working capital loans after receiving Rp30 trillion fresh funds from the government.

Without working capital loans from banks, the previous debt restructuring would not have much of an impact in stimulating supply and demand, Rosan said. He added that several business associations had complained about the banks’ reluctance to provide working capital loans.

The government announced last week that it would place Rp30 trillion in state-owned banks to be disbursed as loans to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The government is following through on its promise to allocate Rp82.2 trillion to banks to help with their liquidity and stimulate credit growth as they restructure the credit of MSMEs.

The State-Owned Banks Association (Himbara) has expressed optimism that its members will be able to disburse Rp90 trillion in loans after receiving the funds.

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