Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has concocted a new committee tasked with dual aims of maintaining the economic growth and curbing the novel coronavirus spread as Indonesia faces a real recession threat with the number of the Covid-19 cases keeps growing in the country.
Coordinating Minister for the Economy Airlangga Hartarto chaired the aptly-named Covid-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery Committee, with the State-Owned Minister Erick Thohir serves as the chief executive.
Erick would supervise and coordinate Task Force for National Economic Recovery and Transformation led by Budi Gunadi Sadikin, who also the deputy minister of the state-owned committee and the Covid-19 Handling Task Force led by Lt. Gen. Doni Monardo.
"We see that the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic will take time," Airlangga said on Monday.
"Therefore, the President assigned the team to planned and executed programs thoroughly so that the handling of the Covid-19 and economic recovery went hand in hand, in the sense that both of them were handled by the same institution and coordinated optimally," Airlangga said.
Apart from chairing the committee, Airlangga also handled a policy sub-committee with six deputies including the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Political Affairs Mahfud MD, Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Cultural Affairs Muhadjir Effendy, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian, and Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto.
Erick served with help from two executive-secretaries, namely Raden Pardede and Susiwijono Moegiarso, who is also the Secretary of the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, Susiwijono Moegiarso.
Indonesia is facing a real recession threat with the latest projection from the World Bank that put the Indonesia economy to grow by zero percent this year, far lower than the government's latest forecast of 3.8 percent.
The government has allowed offices, manufacturing plants, shipping malls, public recreations, cafes, and restaurants to reopen at all of their capacity while urging people to adopt new habits of physical distancing, regular hand washing, and mask-wearing in public.
Yet, the total number of Covid-19 cases continue climbing in Indonesia, just surpassing China last week.
Erick said, however, the country could not back down from its decision to reopen the economy and revert to locking down most of its cities.
"With the current conditions, [health and economy] must go hand in hand," Erick said.
"We also do not want the term 'returning to normal' misinterpreted by the public who would carry out their activities without disciplined compliance to health protocols," Erick said.
"When there was a second wave, the economy would be hit again, as evidenced by several businesses now that not yet be opened, like movie theaters or live music in cafes," he said.
The minister also said he realized that robust testing, trace, and isolation system hold the key for economic reopening, so he targeted Indonesia to be able to conduct 50,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing soon. On its best day, Indonesia was only able to test around 29,000 tests a day. Only Jakarta, among 34 provinces in Indonesia, was able to meet the surveillance criteria from the World Health organization of testing at least one suspect per 1,000 people per week.