Highlights in the media today: Indonesians most likely to violate new normal health protocols, regions plan to relax large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), government pours new stimulus and revises budget deficit to 6.27% 

Following the government’s new normal scenario, experts are warning that considering the low level of compliance seen during the current large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), people will most likely violate the new normal protocol as well.

Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef) Executive Director Enny Sri Hartati on Monday (May 18) called on the government to carefully review plans to relax the ongoing large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) and implement a new normal in business activities. Many sectors, she said, were not ready to implement strict health protocol, as required under the new normal policy.

While the central government has yet to officially relax the PSBB, several regions are already planning to ease the restrictions to make room for economic activities so that they can return to normal. The West Java administration has decided to partially relax the current PSBB after it expires on Wednesday (May 20) in areas where infection rate has reportedly subsided.

Universitas Padjadjaran epidemiologist Panji Fortuna Hadisoemarto, however, said that the PSBB was still needed to curb the infection rate. The current PSBB rules were still largely ignored, especially at wet markets. The contact index should be lowered to below 20% to successfully end the pandemic, Panji said.

Meanwhile, the Jakarta COVID-19 Task Force consulted epidemiologists on Monday (May 18) to decide whether to extend the PSBB, which will expire on May 22.

As of May 19 16:42 (GMT+7), Indonesia had confirmed 18,496 COVID-19 cases with 4,467 recoveries and 1,221 deaths.

The government is rolling out a Rp641.17 trillion economic recovery stimulus—bigger than previous allocations—to soften the impact of COVID-19 on micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as on state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

The government will once again revise the 2020 state budget to accommodate the stimulus, as the budget deficit is expected to further increase to 6.27% of gross domestic product (GDP), higher than the initially planned 5.07% deficit as stipulated in Presidential Regulation No. 54/2020.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said that the widening budget deficit was warranted as government revenues may drop by Rp69.3 trillion-Rp1.69 quadrillion, while state spending might rise by Rp106 trillion-Rp2.72 quadrillion.

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