Topics : President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has urged his ministers to focus the state budget on health care, social aid and economic stimuli to combat the impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.Jokowi said the pandemic not only posed a huge risk to public health but also to the economy, with the global economic slowdown expected to hit the country going forward.“I ask you [to focus the budget] on three things: health care to mitigate the COVID-19 risks, the social safety net through social aid and incentives for businesspeople and small and medium businesses,” Jokowi told ministers in his opening remarks of a teleconferenced limited Cabinet meeting Friday. The government announced on Wednesday that it was finalizing a third stimulus package to reallocate Rp 27 trillion (US$1.8 billion) to fund the healthcare system. To fight the pandemic, it will also reallocate up to Rp 10 trillion that was intended for ministries and institutions as well as Rp 17.2 trillion earmarked for regional administrations.“The third stimulus will prioritize health care, including hospital needs and medical devices, as well as the social safety net for those in need,” Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Wednesday, adding that the government would also assess the best way to provide cash transfers for those affected by the pandemic.The first stimulus package, worth Rp 10.3 trillion and announced on Feb. 25, provided staple needs and mortgage subsidies for low-income families, as well as fiscal incentives for travel-related industries. The second package, worth Rp 22.9 trillion, provided individual and corporate tax breaks and relaxed export and import procedures.Read also: Indonesia’s GDP to grow 4.8% this year as COVID-19 shakes economy: Fitch Solutions“We are still assessing the scope, mechanisms and the target for the third stimulus but we are very flexible, which allows us to react properly,” Sri Mulyani said.She added that low-income households and individuals working in the informal sector would be given financial assistance, although she declined to provide further details.Indonesia’s economic growth is projected to fall to around 4.5 to 4.9 percent in the first quarter and may plummet further in the second quarter as the pandemic strangles economic activity, the minister said.Bank Indonesia (BI) also lowered on Thursday its economic growth projection to between 4.2 and 4.6 percent this year, the slowest since 2005, from last month’s expectation of between 5 and 5.4 percent. Read also: ‘Desperate times, desperate measures’: Calls grow for flexible state budget amid virusIndonesia had announced 309 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths as of Thursday. Globally, the pneumonia-like illness has infected more than 244,000 people and claimed at least 10,000 lives.Jokowi also called on ministers and regional administrations to delay non-prioritized spending. “I urge you to cut spending on business trips, spending on meetings and on purchases of goods that are not prioritized.”“The public’s purchasing power must become our focus, particularly that of the low-income households,” he said, adding that the government would expand its social safety net program to boost consumption through the Family Hope Program (PKH), Indonesia Smart Cards (KIP) and the pre-employment card, among other things.
More than two months after Mohammed Sedee Falee, the Mauritanian who was temporarily released from a 10-year prison sentence for having brought back three of his biological children who he was found guilty of kidnapping in his native-land, could likely go back to jail.This time, he will go to jail for refusing to underwrite the medical expenses and feeding of the children.To make sure that he takes full responsibility of his children, the lawyers who fought a legal battle to have Judge Roosevelt Willie of Criminal Court ‘A’ to harshly punish Falee, have already written to the court.The legal counsel is also asking requisite government institutions, donor agencies and humanitarians to come to the aid of the kids, who are experiencing serious medical problems.In their letter, a copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer, the lawyers said since the children arrived in the country, and the subsequent court decision, Falee and his Mauritanian family have abandoned the children, thus leaving their upkeep with their mother, ex-wife Jamiah Sillah.Jamiah was the one who accused her ex-husband of being responsible for the disappearance of Mr. Falee and the children in Mauritania in 2009.It was through her effort that Sierra Leonean police officers arrested Falee and subsequently surrendered him to their Liberian counterparts for prosecution.It also took the intervention of Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, and the Consul General of Mauritania, accredited near Monrovia to convince Falee to return the kids, despite threat from the court to jail him.In that letter under the signature of Atty. Swahilo Sesay, the lead counsel accused Falee’s lead team for being behind his resistance not to cater to the needs of the kids.“He’s only concerned about footing the legal bill of his counsel for which he had recently paid U$15,000 just before the children could arrive in the country for his subsequent release from prison on the ground of medical reason,” Sesay claimed in the letter.According to the letter, prior to Falee’s release from jail, he vowed never to provide any support as long as the children lived in Liberia, especially under the custody of their mother.“The condition of the kids continues to deteriorate and if prompt attention is not taken regarding their medical status and funds I fear that it might cause other major problems, which they would blame on their mother.“This is why I am bringing this issue to the attention of the court for the proper course of action regarding child support,” the lawyer said.The letter went on, “We have spent over US$1,000 to do their laboratory tests at International Poly Clinic and they are expected to return to the clinic in two weeks.”According to laboratory report the oldest child (female) 17, suffers from ulcer.The second child, 14, (a boy) suffers from urinary tract infection also result of mending cows.The third child, also a boy, 11, suffers from kidney complication.“With these situations,” the letter concluded, “we request Your Honor to intervene and have Falee brought back to this court to give money for his children’s feeding; clothing and medication.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)