JAKARTA: COVID-19 has taught Indonesia how to find a balance between health and economic interests, said President Joko Widodo on Monday (Aug 16) as he addressed perceptions that government policies may not have been consistent when it comes to tackling the pandemic.
Speaking at the annual State of the Nation Address ahead of the country’s 76th Independence Day on Tuesday, Mr Widodo said in making decisions, the government must continue to refer to data, as well as to the latest science and technology as Indonesia continues to battle COVID-19 which has claimed the lives of at least 117,000 people in the country.
Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, also stated that the government’s objectives are consistent, but the strategy and management on the field must be dynamic and adapt to the problems and challenges.
“The tightening and loosening of community mobility, for example, must be done at most once every week while referring to the latest data. Maybe this is often read as changing policies, or policies that are not consistent.
“That is precisely what we must do, to find the best combination of interests between public health and economic interests because the virus is always changing and mutating. Thus the handling must change according to the challenges faced,” said Mr Widodo.
The unavoidable tightening of mobility to curb COVID-19 has led to the government providing more social assistance than in normal situations, he said, while noting that the government has ensured that people can get decent work and the economy can be improved.
Although the pandemic has hampered economic growth, it should not hinder economic structural reforms, said the president.
He highlighted that from January to June, Indonesia’s realised investment was at least 442.8 trillion rupiah (US$30.55 billion), excluding the upstream oil and gas sector and financial services. About 51.5 per cent of the realised investment was outside of Java.
These investments created more than 620,000 jobs for Indonesians, he also said.
With additional investment in the months ahead, the country can hopefully meet the target of 900 trillion rupiah this year, he said.