Lembong said it was a widespread belief in the scientific community that “Indonesia’s official government data is grossly undervalued, underestimated [the number of infections]. We have the lowest test rate of any major economy in the world. ”
Indonesia has now recorded 349,160 cases of coronavirus and 12,268 deaths, with more than 4,000 people’s daily infections lasting for about a month and testing rates remaining stubbornly low – on the order of 25,000 to 35,000 people per day in a country of 270 million people .
The International Monetary Fund this week revised its forecasts for economic growth in Indonesia due to the pandemic, forecasting that Southeast Asia’s largest economy would shrink 1.5 percent, instead of the 0.3 percent forecast in June.
“The government is effectively putting the farm on a successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign in 2021.
“Since the infections are increasing exponentially, it is mathematically almost impossible to bring the vaccination campaign up to a speed that corresponds to the spread of the coronavirus.”
Indonesia’s state-owned company PT Bio Farma has signed a contract with China’s Sinovac for 125 million doses of its vaccine candidate, while Sinopharm (50 million doses), CanSino (20 million doses) and Britain’s AstraZeneca (100 million doses) have signed separate contracts).
“In western or rich countries, half-yearly flu vaccinations are the order of the day. This is certainly not the case in Indonesia, ”he said.
“And the reason I’m bringing this up is that most of these COVID vaccines, like the flu shots, have to be stored at a temperature of plus 2 to plus 8 degrees Celsius … many have to be stored at minus 20 to minus 70 degrees Celsius, therefore, cold store logistics around this vaccine are incredibly difficult, especially for countries where the infrastructure for biannual, widespread flu vaccinations is not yet in place – like Indonesia. ”
Regarding the changes to the labor laws, Lembong said he would “defend to the end the modernization reforms contained in the collective law, including labor market reforms,” as well as the move to open more economic sectors to private sector investment including international capital – a controversial decision in a country that still has a strong protectionist drive.
Lembong expressed concern that the amendments to the Omnibus Act did little to address immediate combustion problems such as much-needed health sector improvements, and that they appear to be inconsistent with the strong current global trends to protect the environment or promote green energy.
“Vietnam triggered a solar boom around two years ago. I expect it will be easy for Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore to decarbonise quickly. China is the largest manufacturer of solar modules, windmills and lithium-ion batteries. So you won. ”I have no problem with decarbonization. ”
“However, Indonesia is becoming increasingly carbon-intensive, which is reflected in the collective law, which extends tax incentives and regulatory relief to coal mining and the owners and operators of palm oil plantations.”
President Joko has defended the collective bill, citing the “urgent need for jobs” with 2.9 million new job seekers, 6.9 million unemployed in Indonesia and 3.5 million workers affected by COVID-19.
He has argued that the bill will make it easier to set up businesses and that the bill will reduce corruption by cutting red tape.
James Massola is a Southeast Asia correspondent based in Jakarta. He was previously the chief correspondent in Canberra. He was a three-time Walkley and Quills finalist, won a Kennedy Award for Outstanding Foreign Correspondent, and is the author of The Great Cave Rescue.
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