Vaccine Search, WHO on Criteria for Easing, Unions Take a Break, Tech-Savvy ASEAN
Oct 14, 2020 | AmCham Indonesia
Indonesia Hunts Vaccines: Retno & Erick to Europe, Luhut & Terawan to China
As part of the Indonesian government’s efforts to secure a COVID-19 vaccine for local use, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Minister for State-Owned Enterprises Erick Thohir, and a Ministry of Health team yesterday, Oct 12, headed for the UK and Switzerland.
Retno said the main purpose of the trip was to secure commitments from other sources for the COVID-19 vaccine within the framework of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) fair allocation mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility. The other objective is to meet with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom to discuss vaccine cooperation.
“The purpose of this trip is to strengthen cooperation for the medium and long term between Bio Farma and its partners abroad in a multilateral context,” Retno said.
On Oct 10, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan and Minister of Health Terawan Putranto met with leaders of China COVID-19 vaccine companies Cansino, G42/Sinopharm and Sinovac. The meeting aimed to finalize the purchase of the Chinese-developed COVID-19 vaccine in the context of preparing for the vaccination, technology transfer, and regional production in Indonesia. Vaccines from the three companies are known to have entered the final stage of clinical trial phase 3 and are in the process of obtaining Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in several countries.
The inspection team, consisting of elements from the National Agency of Drug and Food Control, the Ministry of Health, the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) and Bio Farma will leave for China on Oct 14, to see the quality of production facilities and the halal vaccines produced by Sinovac and Cansino. The Sinopharm vaccine was inspected by Abu Dhabi’s Halal Agency, which found no issue regarding the substances it contained.
Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Griffith University, says Jakarta has not yet reached three World Health Organization (WHO) criteria to loosen large-scale social restrictions (PSBB).
The three criteria are: a decline in positive confirmed cases by 50 percent, no deaths for three consecutive weeks since the last peak and the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases should be less than five percent for two consecutive weeks.
Dicky said Jakarta is not yet in a safe enough condition to carry out a PSBB transition, even though the COVID-19 transmission rate has decreased. In the last two weeks, new active cases have continued in Jakarta, reporting a double-digit death rate during the implementation of PSBB.
Member of the Jakarta’s Regional People’s Representative Assembly (DPRD) Gilbert Simanjuntak, agreed and referred to the previous transitional PSBB policy, which he says failed to reduce positive cases of COVID-19 in Jakarta. Gilbert suggested that to help open the economy back up again with the transition of PSBB, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan should provide strict monitoring to prevent an increase in positive cases.
Former Minister of Finance Chatib Basri predicts that easing the PSBB in Jakarta and elsewhere will result in short-lived economic gains, describing the shape of Indonesia’s recovery as following that of the Nike “swoosh” logo – a decrease followed by a slow rise. Basri cited the fluctuations in key domestic economic indicators such as the manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) to back up his argument.
In March the manufacturing PMI was 45.3 percent, but then fell to 27.5 percent in April and 28.6 percent in May due to the introduction of PSBB. As restrictions eased the PMI rose to 39.1 percent in June, 46.9 percent in July and 50.5 percent in August before it fell flat once again to 47.2 percent in September.
Chatib believes this was due to an increase in purchasing power when restrictions were eased in June, but was only the result of delayed demand, resulting in a flattening curve once that demand was fulfilled. This phenomenon is one of four key reasons he predicts a Nike shaped economic recovery. The other three are middle and upper class consumers being unwilling to spend, shopping patterns moving online and local governments such as Jakarta still enforcing a stricter version of the PSBB.
Chatib also warned of “zombie companies” – businesses that can cover their operational costs, but cannot cover fixed costs, such as rental fees. He believes the government needs to find ways to make the economic impact of a reduced PSBB more sustainable to facilitate economic expansion.
As part of Facebook’s commitment to small business that are facing challenges due to COVID-19, it has announced a $100 million grant program to support up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in more than 30 countries. Applications for this program are now open in Indonesia.
Below are the criteria for businesses to be eligible for the program:
Experienced challenges from COVID-19
Have between two and 50 employees as of Jan 1
Been in business for over a year
Be a for-profit company
Located in JABODETABEK.
Small businesses in Indonesia can submit their application from Oct 6 to 19, 2020. Visit the Facebook Small Business grants program website for more details:
Unions Pause Demonstrations to Wait for Final Omnibus Version
The President of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Unions (KSPI), Said Iqbal, has said further demonstrations will be put on hold until the final version of the Omnibus Job Creation Law is released.
However, he said further demonstrations may coincide with judicial, legislative and executive reviews of the Law. He also defended last week's national strike, citing screenshots from the House of Representatives (DPR) working committee and news circulating on social media as valid evidence of the need for action. Workers are also considering different methods of action, such as coordinated taking of leave to halt factory processes, in an effort to prevent rioting and anarchist activities.
A new draft of the Law is now circulating that contains an additional 130 pages not found in the previous draft. The validity of the new document has been confirmed by DPR Secretary-General Indra Iskandar. In addition, some organizations are considering filing for a judicial review of the legislation in the Constitutional Court, including Nahdlatul Ulama through the Indonesia Muslim Workers Sarikat Confederation.
Despite difficulties with poor internet connections in some ASEAN countries, a recent survey by the World Economic Forum found nearly nine out of 10 young people in the region said they had increased their use of at least one digital tool during the pandemic, while 42 percent had picked up at least one new digital tool.
There was significant growth in online education, even among those who had completed their school and university studies. Almost two-fifths of workers said they made more use of online education.
A clear majority said the switch to digital would be a permanent feature of their lives from now on. Nearly half said their experience of the pandemic had taught them to be more resilient in the future and 38 percent said they had learned to think more creatively.
Merger of BRI Syariah, BNI Syariah and Mandiri Syariah Begins
Three state-owned sharia commercial banks – BNI Syariah, BRI Syariah, and Bank Syariah Mandiri – have begun merging, with the aim of optimizing sharia banks under the coordination of the State-Owned Bank Association (Himbara).
Bank Mandiri (BMRI) Deputy President Director Hery Gunardi said the potential for sharia banking in Indonesia is very large. Indonesia’s Vice President Ma'ruf Amin also said domestic sharia banks can be in the world’s top 20 by merging with state-owned banks. The government is designing a scheme to merge sharia banks into become one larger bank with broader business potential.
Support Independent Journalism: Subscribe to The Jakarta Post
In these difficult times, our hometown English language newspaper, The Jakarta Post, is more important than ever. Given the difficulties of physical circulation and the economic slump, the Post needs to boost its online subscribers – a goal we heartily support at AmCham Indonesia. Quality English language news is vital for our businesses, our home offices and the flow of information out of Indonesia. It is for this reason, that we are urging all of our members and readers to subscribe to JP! Information is what will help get us through this crisis. Below is information about how to sign up.
We Still Need Your Support to Shelter the Front Line
AmCham Indonesia and Habitat for Humanity have joined forces in an initiative called Sheltering Those Who Care for Us, a program to provide temporary quarters in hotels for Indonesian medical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our program has helped not only medical workers in Jakarta, but also Tangerang and Surabaya; we are now planning to expand to Sulawesi.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still spreading, medical workers are working a lot harder than before. In these difficult times, they often cannot go back home for fear of infecting family members or being rejected by their local communities. As a result, they are forced to sleep in hospitals without a proper bed, also increasing the possibility of getting infected.
By donating, we will increase the overall capability of Indonesia to treat COVID-19. Habitat will match individual hospitals with hotels on an as-needed basis.
We are continuing with a full slate of meetings, events and information offered to our community online. But we can only do this through the support of our members. If you are not yet an AmCham member, please join now!
AmCham Indonesia is open to all companies with an interest in US business relations and we have many non-American members. We are a community and we welcome you!
The AmCham Office is on work from home status and all face-to-face meetings and events have been postponed. We are having a number of meetings online using the Zoom platform. You will be notified of virtual meetings as they are scheduled.
What is Your Company Doing on COVID-19?
Please let us know what measures your company may be taking in the form of donations and other assistance to help Indonesia during this time of confusion and concern. Contact [email protected] with your news. We would like to publicize the ways that our AmCham companies are pitching in.
Stay safe, call a doctor if you have a high fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. Stay healthy above all else.
COVID Update is AmCham’s regular newsletter on developments related to the pandemic crisis in Indonesia. It is edited by AmCham Managing Director A Lin Neumann and written by the AmCham Staff. Paul L Goddard is the Managing Editor