Indonesia and COVID-19: Dr Chatib Basri, former Indonesian Finance Minister
The coronavirus death toll in Indonesia has risen to be the highest in Asia outside China. Additionally, with only 52 in every million people being tested, Indonesia ranks among the worst in the world for COVI-19 testing, leading to concerns that the number of deaths and cases are understated and remain vastly under-reported. Against this backdrop, the annual exodus that is expected for the upcoming Ramadan holiday is raising fears that the outbreak could be accelerated across the archipelago.
President Jokowi’s administration has been criticised for mishandling the pandemic and being slow to bring in measures to curb the spread of the virus. While social distancing policies have been introduced, President Jokowi has remained hesitant to implement tougher lockdown measures adopted elsewhere. This has led to friction with local governments, as regional leaders sought to lock down their borders to stem the spread of the virus. The country also faces a shortage of testing supplies, ventilators and manpower.
To tackle the public health and economic impacts of the pandemic, the Indonesian government has announced additional state spending worth RP405.1 trillion, allocated to healthcare, social welfare, and business recovery programmes. Indonesia is also slated to receive around US$7 billion in loans from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to aid its fight against the pandemic. Despite Indonesia’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals, this crisis will prove to be a major challenge for Southeast Asia’s largest economy as the external environment deteriorates and domestic demand weakens – expected growth for this year has been slashed to 2.5 per cent, down from 5.02 per cent in 2019.
Speaking via video from Jakarta, Dr Muhamad Chatib Basri, former Indonesian Minister of Finance, will outline the situation in Indonesia and share reflections on the government’s response to this fast-developing public health and economic crisis and the political and economic implications it will herald.
Dr Basri was Minister of Finance of Indonesia from 2013-2014 and prior to that, Chairman of the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) from 2011. He is Chairman of the PT Bank Mandiri Tbk and Chairman of the PT XL-Axiata. An expert in international trade, macroeconomics and political economy, Dr Basri also teaches at the Department of Economics University of Indonesia and co-founded CReco Research Institute, a Jakarta based economic consulting firm, in 2010.
This digital briefing is off-the-record and moderated by Michael Lawrence, Chief Executive of Asia House. It is held exclusively for Asia House Corporate Members and is part of an ongoing series of Asia House digital events with senior officials as the world grapples with the coronavirus outbreak.
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