President Joko Widodo leads a cabinet meeting at the State Palace in Jakarta. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak)

President Criticizes Ministers again for Little Budget Spending


AUGUST 03, 2020

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo again criticized his ministers on Monday for a lack of “a sense of crisis” with the incredibly low Covid-19 budget realization.

According to the president, the Covid-19 stimulus absorption still sits at a low 20 percent or Rp 141 trillion ($9.58 billion) out of the total Rp 695 trillion. Social aid programs absorbed the most funds at 39 percent, followed by programs dedicated to help pandemic-ridden micro, small and medium enterprises at 25 percent.

"Ministries and institutions have not really shown a sense of crisis. They are still trapped in their daily routines and do not know which task should be prioritized," Jokowi said at a virtual cabinet meeting in the State Palace in Jakarta.

Approximately 40 percent of the budget is still lacking details of spending plan, known as DIPA.

“If you have no plan, how can the spending be materialized?” he said.

For a more agile and effective crisis management, Jokowi instructed the Covid-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery Committee to tackle this issue immediately. 

The committee, chair by chief economic minister Airlangga Hartarto, should detail the ministries' priority programs one by one, he said.

This is not the first time for Jokowi to criticize the sluggish Covid-19 budget absorption. Last week, the president said that ministries had only used up to 19 percent or Rp 136 trillion. In other words, budget absorption only increased by a mere one percent in a week.

Door-to-Door Campaign

Jokowi said that the public is increasingly worried about the ongoing pandemic.

As of Sunday, Indonesia's confirmed cases have exceeded 111,000. The fatality rate is at an alarming 4.7 percent, which the president said was above the global average by 0.8 percentage point. Even so, there is still a glimmer of hope as the country's recovery rate currently stands at 61.9 percent.

He said for the next two weeks, the government will focus on promoting the wearing of mask.

At the meeting, Jokowi assigned Tri Suswati, the wife of Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian, to lead women in the Family Welfare Movement (PKK) on a door-to-door health protocol campaign. This will be put on hold if they are worried of catching the virus on their visits. 

"If they are ready, the PKK is effective for a door-to-door mask use campaign," Jokowi said.

The president also called for more robust campaigns on TV and social media.