State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, right. (Antara Photo/Galih Pradipta)

SOE Minister Says 'Strategic Projects' Will Continue During Coronavirus Epidemic


MARCH 30, 2020

Jakarta. State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir has confirmed that several big national projects would continue during the coronavirus epidemic.

The SOE Ministry has already assessed which projects should be prioritized and which ones should be temporarily suspended as Indonesia continues to struggle with the economic impact of the epidemic.

"We have reviewed our cashflow. We will decide which projects must be prioritized and which ones should be postponed," Erick said in a video conference on Monday.

Several strategic projects are currently under the care of the SOE Ministry, including the development of new refineries and tourist destinations in Lombok and Bali.

Erick emphasized the importance of keeping the economy alive during the epidemic so Indonesia would not have to play catch-up with other countries when it is over. 

"We won't suspend all projects. Once China and other countries recover [from the impact of the epidemic], we don't want to get left behind," Erick said.

During the teleconference, Erick also asked SOE directors to show commitment to keep building the country during these difficult times.

Some of the projects that have been given the nod to continue are a 35,000-megawatt power grid project handled by the State Electricity Company (PLN) and infrastructure development under state-run oil company Pertamina – which is currently being kept busy dealing with the plummeting oil price.

Erick said construction on the Jakarta-Bandung bullet train line, targeted to start operating next year, will also continue, but admitted some delays are expected.

"It's one of President Joko Widodo's priority targets, so the bullet train project will continue. However, China is our partner for the project and their foreign workers would not be able to come back to Indonesia yet. So, yes, there would be delays," Erick said.

He said the project is a priority because public transportation is a crucial sector in a country of 270 million people. 

Erick said he could not reveal the list of suspended projects yet because he has not reported them to the Finance Ministry. 

"We will give the details after we tell the Finance Minister. The minister is still busy preparing stimulus to maintain economic stability," Erick said.