Indonesia's Poverty Rate to Touch 11.5 Percent amid COVID-19: VP

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesia's poverty rate would likely rise to 11.5 percent by 2020-end in the event of no significant flattening of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) curve, Vice President Ma'ruf Amin told the virtual conference participants, Tuesday.

    "Our poverty rate may return to that in 2011 if our efforts to mitigate the tremendous impacts of COVID-19 on public health and economic recovery do not run as expected," he stated during the national symposium on health, food security, and poverty issues.

    Since the imposition of large-scale social restrictions to break the chain of COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia, the number of poor people rose over 1.6 million, Amin noted at the symposium, organized by the Makassar-based Hasanuddin University.

    In March, the country's poverty rate was recorded at 9.78 percent, or 26.42 million people. The figure was higher than 24.79 million people, or 9.22 percent, in September 2019, Vice President Amin stated.

    In a bid to prevent the poverty rate from rising further and safeguarding the social welfare of community members bearing the major brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has been applying various social safety and mitigation programs.

    The government has provided targeted beneficiaries with conditional cash transfer (PKH), staple food program (Sembako), national health insurance program (JKN), and village cash transfer (BLT) in addition to waiving the minimum electricity fees, he stated.

    The government has also extended its social protection program for 40 percent of the most vulnerable households in Indonesia by allotting funds reaching Rp203.9 trillion.

    To this end, the government has launched the president's assistance for 9.12 million productive micro-enterprises and wage subsidy for 15.7 million workers, he remarked, adding that the government had allocated Rp59.78 trillion for the two new aid programs.

    Novel coronavirus infections initially surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019.

    Since then, COVID-19 has spread to over 215 countries and territories, including 34 provinces of Indonesia, with a massive spurt in death toll.

    To tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesia is leaving no stone unturned to develop a vaccine to fight the virus.

    Currently, in addition to the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, Indonesian scientists are working on a vaccine named after the country's national flag, Merah Putih (Red and White).

    Discovery of the COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021 may enable Indonesia's economy to recover at the latest by mid-2021, Iman Sugema, a senior economist with the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef), stated.

    "Economic recovery really relies on how immediate the discovery of the COVID-19 vaccine is. If it can be reached on time, Indonesia's economy will rebound in mid-2021," Sugema stated.

    In the wake of the pandemic, the Indonesian economy had contracted 5.32 percent in the second quarter of this year.

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    ANTARA