Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati at the 2020 State Budget Realization meeting in Jakarta on Feb. 19. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)

Gov't Seeks Way to Foot Covid-19 Patients' Hospital Bills

BY :NUR YASMIN

MARCH 03, 2020

Jakarta. The government has been working on new policies that will allow it to foot Covid-19 patients' hospital bills, something that would come as a relief for a worried population facing the real possibility of an outbreak, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said. 

"We're waiting for the Health Ministry's assessment of the funding scheme for the Covid-19 patients. If they deem we need it, they will inform us," the minister said in Jakarta on Monday.

According to Indonesian law, the Health Ministry will cover the expenses for patients being put under medical observation who are referred to a recommended hospital by the government.

Indonesia announced two confirmed Covid-19 cases on Monday, the first instances of the infection in the world's fourth-most populous country.  

"Our state budget [APBN], regional budget [APBD], and village budget [APBDes] are instruments we use to guard our economy. According to the president's order, these instruments must be run effectively to protect our economy and realize our development target,” Sri Mulyani said.

Human development – including public health – is among the top development priorities for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in his second term, along with infrastructure development, economic transformation, regulation improvement and bureaucracy cuts.

Sri Mulyani said the Covid-19 outbreak presents a real threat to the global economy by wreaking havoc on the import supply chain.

The Finance Ministry, she said, would focus on protecting the real sector as imports from China grind to a halt. 

"The real sector is our main concern because imports of raw materials are declining, [which means] production is disrupted and the market is weakening. The impact [of the Covid-19 outbreak] will be both sectoral and industry-wide," Sri Mulyani said.

She said the Finance Ministry, Industry Ministry and Trade Ministry will drop as many import barriers as possible to help importers, particularly those with good reputation, bring in goods much-needed by the local population.

"We will give some breathing space for the industrial sector. Around 500 reputable importers are responsible for 40 percent of total raw material imports in Indonesia. We hope they can accelerate import and production soon," she said.

Sri Mulyani said the government will establish a common policy mix with monetary authorities such as the central bank, Bank Indonesia, the Financial Services Authority (OJK) and business stakeholders in the real sectors.

Global Economy Threat

Meanwhile, the G20 countries are also preparing themselves to counter the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the global economy, holding a meeting between the countries' finance ministers and central bank governors in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Feb. 22-23.

"The G20 leaders are paying close attention to how fast China has responded to the outbreak. Its impact on the global economy will depend much on how prepared we are to contain the spread of the virus," Suminto, the Finance Ministry's special staff in international finance, said in Jakarta on Monday.

"People are afraid to travel, so tourism will be affected. Economic confidence could be crushed. The outbreak has caused widespread, and probably prolonged, disruptions to economic activities everywhere," he said.

The G20 countries agreed in the Riyadh meeting that the Covid-19 outbreak warrants a global, multilateral solution.

As of Tuesday, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has infected close to 100,000 people in 74 countries and autonomous regions around the world.

The pneumonia-like Covid-19 disease that the virus causes has killed more than 3,100 people, but around 48,000 recovered completely from the viral infection. 

 

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