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The Indonesian Ombudsman finally intervened in the rice import polemic last March. Agency Chair Mokhammad Najih said the government’s planned rice import ahead of the prime harvest season had discomposed the public, particularly farmers, while in fact the import would not become necessary until May. Moreover, the agency also found maladministration in the policy making process. Najih added that the Ombudsman had strengthened its role in helping improve the public service quality. In addition to following through with public reports and complaints, it will continue to enhance oversight of the ministries and state agencies. The focus of the watchdogs’ new board will be on economic development issues and their impact on public services. Najih also highlighted the need to expand his agency’s authority.
State Health Care and Social Security Agency’s (BPJS Kesehatan) CEO Ali Ghufron Mukti revealed that his agency was still in the red with a deficit of Rp6.3 trillion as of December 2020. The increased premiums starting last January coupled with the decline in the use of BPJS services during the pandemic are expected to help reduce the deficit. Given the pandemic as a non-natural disaster, the government has borne coronavirus treatment costs. Ghufron said that to increase public’s participation, BPJS Kesehatan was exploring an innovative funding mechanism via cooperation with philanthropic institutions with the hope to help fund prospective National Health Insurance-Healthy Indonesia Card (JKN-KIS) holders or even assist settle arrears. This way, the entire population will eventually have access to health care.
Indonesian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ITAGI) Chair Sri Rezeki Hadinegoro said that the Covid-19 immunization has been fairly smooth albeit the vaccine shortage. The high mortality rate among the elderly population has prompted the government to shuffle the order of priority groups for vaccination. On the advice of the ITAGI, the elderly group was moved forward from the fourth to the second in line to be vaccinated along with public servants. Accoding to Sri Rezeki the main objective of vaccination was not to create heard immunity as widely publicized but rather to lower the death rate. Not only participating in the preparation of vaccination roadmap, the ITAGI also gives recommendations to the health ministry.
Hariyadi Sukamdani, Chairman of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI), was quick to register his members in the second stage of the national Covid-19 vaccination program. His desire is to have all 121,500 PHRI members working in the hotel and tourism industry to be vaccinated. But this wish is hampered by the limited amount of vaccine availability. Hariyadi said that vaccinating tourism workers is important to revive the industry, especially in Bali, which had taken a hard blow from suspended tourism. Hariyadi, who is also the CEO of Sahid Group and Chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo), supports the government’s plan to open a Covid-free corridor in collaboration with several nations.
The fatwa (edict) commission of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) declared the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine haram (forbidden by Islamic law) because it used trypsin enzyme from pigs in its viral multiplication process. The fatwa runs counter to the drug monitoring agency (BPOM)’s ruling that the enzyme is already broken up thus no longer present in the vaccine making process. Penny Kusumastuti Lukito, Chair of BPOM, considers the end product to be free of porcine material. Given the limited supply of halal (permissible by Islamic law)-certified vaccine Sinovac, the government has no choice but to turn to other vaccines including AstraZeneca.
Chief Executive Officer of Astra International Djony Bunarto Tjondro is leading the company in the middle of the crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. The large-scale social restrictions from April to May 2020 was a blow to the Astra group automotive industry. Sales of cars and motorbikes fell sharply as a result of the weak market and people's buying power. Astra's business began to revive after the government relaxed the social restrictions from the middle of 2020. Supported by other business units, Astra was able to book a net profit of Rp175.05 trillion for last year, although this was down 26 percent on the previous year. As well as retaining its more established main business lines Djony says that Astra plans to diversify its business as a result of the pandemic. Electric vehicles is sector where preparations are underway.
Since the Myanmar army staged a coup on February 1, Myanmar Now’s Chief Editor Swe Win has intensified communication with the journalists on the ground from his refuge in Australia to keep the world updated of what is happening in Myanmar. He said rumors of a coup had been swirling when the military made several political maneuvers to discredit the November 2020 general election results. Myanmar has now plunged into a crisis as the coup sparked nationwide protests and civil disobedient movement. Clashes between protesters and security forces have left scores of deaths and sent hundreds of protesters, activists and journalists behind bars.
Since his recent appointment as the Naritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister, Sakti Wahyu Trenggono has already annulled three regulations on lobster larvae export and the use of trawl issued by his predecessor, Edhy Prabowo, who was arrested in the lobster larvae export graft case. The former deputy minister of defense with extensive experience in telecommunication is in the process of issuing regulations to ban the export of lobster larvae and the use of cantrang or trawl to prevent overfishing and ecological destruction. Given the task by the President to improve the welfare of fishermen, Trenggono is trying to steer the farmers toward fish farming which he believes will bring prosperity to the country’s small-scale fishers. He also vowed not to repeat the mistakes of his predecessor.
Muhammad Lutfi immediately stepped on the gas right after he was sworn in as trade minister on December 23, 2020. The former envoy to the United States must focus on three main duties mandated to him by President Joko Widodo: to maintain price stability; to help MSMEs penetrate the export market; and, to expand the export market to non-traditional territories by making use of the international economic cooperation agreements Indonesia has signed. According to him, China and the United States are extremely important to Indonesia.
Garuda Indonesia CEO Irfan Setiaputra inherited a plethora of problems when he joined the national flag carrier last year. Now, if he is not exploring maneuvers to turn the financially-distressed company around amid dwindling number of passengers or taking care of the thorny plane rental contract, Irfan shepherds Garuda as a pivotal airline in distributing Covid-19 vaccines. Armed with extensive experience in leading various companies, Irfan Setiaputra pulls out all the stops to restore Garuda Indonesia’s image as a bona fide airline.
The traditional arts sector has been one of the most battered industry by the pandemic adversely affecting those who depend on stage performances for their livelihoods. Many traditional artists in rural areas have no choice but to turn into farmers, traders or online taxi drivers as they cannot rely only on government assistance to sustain themselves.
Having been appointed as the new minister for tourism and creative economy on December 23, Sandiaga Uno must now shoulder the responsibility of reviving the pandemic-hit tourism and creative economy industries. Amid the social restriction measures that continue to paralyze the two sectors, Sandiaga must strategize to work through a backlog of work that awaits him. His ministry must also adjust the foreign visitor target with the government’s Covid-19 response strategies.
In the midst of a flurry of activities to procure and distribute Covid-19 vaccines, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir has additional responsibility of overseeing the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) and the selection of the fund’s board members. The government is confident that the fund will help restore the national economy.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin
Besides personally overseeing the distribution activities, Human Development and Culture Affairs Coordinating Minister Muhadjir Effendy is also involved in the preparation of the vaccination scheme. Muhadjir, who also holds the position of 3rd Deputy Chair of the Covid-19 Mitigation and National Economic Recovery Committee (KPCPEN), is one of the ministers who promoted independent or paid vaccination.
Ahead of his demission at the end of January, Commissioner of the Indonesian Ombudsman, Alamsyah Saragih is still busy with speaking at various forums. He is also wrapping up final reports on cases such as the dual position held by state-owned enterprise (SOE) commissioners and the lobster larvae export scandal in which former maritime affairs and fishery minister Edhy Prabowo was implicated. According to him, public awareness is rising. "The public doesn’t just report to us and hide behind us anymore," he said.
The army’s role in the recent sweeping operation to bring down the banners bearing Islam Defenders’ Front leader Muhammad Rizieq Shihab around Jakarta unsettled Agus Widjojo, governor of National Defense Institute (Lemhannas).