Indonesia rolls out new regulations to step up fight against Covid-19 outbreak

Shoppers walking through a disinfectant chamber beofre entering a shopping mall in Surabaya, Indonesia, on March 31, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday (March 31) approved new regulations that came into immediate effect with the goal of curbing the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country, including a 405.1 trillion rupiah (S$35.22 billion) increase in the state budget to cater to exigent expenses such as spending on health equipment.

In a televised address, Mr Joko said he had signed a "Perppu" - a government regulation that becomes effective immediately and is treated as legally binding, thereby circumventing Parliament - on financial policies and stability of the financial system amid the Covid-19 outbreak, which has so far sickened more than 1,500 people and killed more than 130 across Indonesia.

Out of the additional funds to be provided in the state budget, 75 trillion rupiah has been earmarked for the purchase of testing kits, reagents, personal protective equipment, and masks, among other health-related expenditures.

Besides that, 110 trillion rupiah will be used to provide a social security net, 70.1 trillion rupiah will go towards fiscal incentives and credit for businesses, and 150 trillion rupiah will be used for economic recovery.

The new regulations will allow the government to widen the 2020 budget deficit to 5.07 per cent of GDP.

In addition, Mr Joko declared a public health emergency in Indonesia through a Keppres - a presidential decree that enables the implementation of civil emergency measures - as well as a PP, a government regulation that lays out the guidelines for "large scale social distancing".

The regulations are intended to contain the spread of Covid-19 at the provincial, regency and city levels through coordinated efforts with the virus task force at the centre.

"With the issuance of this PP, regional leaders should not issue uncoordinated policies. All policies at the regional level must comply with the regulations and refer to PP and Keppres," said Mr Joko.

The government has been under pressure to impose a lockdown in Indonesia, but Mr Joko has resisted so far due to social and economic concerns.

Details of the exact measures to be taken as part of the regulations have not been revealed as yet.

Indonesia recorded 114 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, its largest daily increase, raising the total to 1,528 infections nationwide, Mr Achmad Yurianto, the government's spokesman on Covid-19 mattes, said at a daily press conference.

The world's fourth-most populous nation also saw 14 more deaths, taking the overall fatalities to 136 - the highest tally across South-east Asia.

The number of recovered patients stood at 81, up by six within 24 hours.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.