Govt should prioritise health response over economic recovery: Task force

12-Sep-2020 Intellasia | JakartaPost | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Indonesia should focus on tackling the COVID-19 health crisis rather than on economic recovery, said the head of the economic recovery task force, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, emphasising that the country should not solely rely on the vaccine as a solution to the current pandemic, as a vaccine could take years to fully develop.

“As the head of the economic recovery task force, no matter how much money we spend, it will not be enough if the health crisis is not fixed. It is a health problem and our resources should be prioritised to fix the health issues first,” Budi said in an online discussion hosted by the Indonesia Fintech Association (Aftech) on Thursday.

“I believe the leadership role during this pandemic should be taken by a health professional, not an economic professional,” he added, without specifying which leadership role he was referring to.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has called on the national COVID-19 and economic recovery committee, as well as other relevant authorities on September 7 to put pandemic mitigation above all else, explaining that an economic recovery could only begin once public health had been restored.

Experts and epidemiologists have criticised the government’s pandemic policy for leaning more toward economic recovery measures than health crisis handling. In the Rp 695.2 trillion (US$46.94 billion) stimulus package, for instance, the government allocates only Rp 87.55 trillion to health care, which compares to Rp 120.6 trillion for business incentives and Rp 123.46 in stimulus for micro, small and medium enterprises.

Budi went on to say that the government should aim to ensure people’s safety and confidence in going about their daily activities. If people were still afraid to go out to work or shop, the economy would not recover, as the country’s economy still relied heavily on face-to-face activities, he added.

He also noted that, while a vaccine could restore people’s confidence in protection against the coronavirus, the government should also pursue alternative strategies, as a vaccine took up to seven years on average to develop.

“We have strong confidence that a vaccine will be available, but the treatment strategy is as important as the vaccine,” he said, adding that decreasing the COVID-19 mortality rate could also increase people’s confidence about surviving the disease.

On Wednesday, International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva also said that a full economic recovery was “unlikely” without a vaccine.

“Though the world has learned to live with the virus, a full recovery is unlikely without a permanent medical solution. With 128 coronavirus vaccines currently under development, there is a strong chance a solution will be found, but we must urgently devise multilateral solutions to ensure adequate supply and distribution,” she said as reported by AFP.


Category: Indonesia

Print This Post