Indonesia forms new high-powered team to revive economy amid pandemic

 The new team has been tasked to deal with a number of issues, including monitoring the availability of test equipment and the development of the Covid-19 vaccines.
The new team has been tasked to deal with a number of issues, including monitoring the availability of test equipment and the development of the Covid-19 vaccines.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - Indonesian President Joko Widodo has signed a presidential regulation to form a new National Covid-19 Mitigation and Economic Recovery Committee aimed at resuscitating the economy while battling a surge in new cases.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir will head the new team, which is a merger of two former task forces. Mr Thohir's deputy Budi Gunadi Sadikin will continue to manage the economic task force while the disaster management agency chief, Mr Doni Monardo, will remain as chair of the Covid-19 mitigation task force.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday (July 21), Mr Joko said the new team has been tasked to deal with a number of issues, including monitoring the availability of test equipment and the development of the Covid-19 vaccines.

"With this integrated team, the planning and execution of programmes on Covid-19 mitigation and economic recovery can take place simultaneously, since both areas are being managed by a single institution for maximum coordination," he wrote.

As of Tuesday (July21), Indonesia has recorded 89,869 Covid-19 cases and 4,320 deaths, the highest in South-east Asia and surpassing China's.

The country has been easing restrictive measures under a "new normal" but has seen record cases and fresh outbreaks in various parts of the country as crowds gather in public places and people flout social distancing rules.

Mr Thohir told the media on Monday that an integrated team was needed, as "we don't want people to misinterpret the new normal term by carrying out activities freely without complying with the protocols".

He promised to design policies which would include boosting people's purchasing power, and to present them to the president next week.

Mr Joko on Monday also disbanded 18 state institutions to reduce the burden on the state budget as well as to streamline bureaucratic processes by handing over the tasks and responsibilities of the agencies to the new integrated committee and relevant ministries.

 
 

The dissolution followed an uncharacteristic outburst at a Cabinet meeting last month when he threatened to reshuffle the Cabinet and disband underperforming agencies if his ministers failed to deal with the health crisis swiftly.

The disbanded agencies included the Sunda Strait Infrastructure and Strategic Area Development Agency which was introduced in 2011 to, among other things, oversee a shelved plan to build the 30km-long Sunda Strait Bridge connecting the islands of Java and Sumatra.