TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Center of Economics and Law Studies (CELIOS) director Bhima Yudhistira urged the Jokowi administration to take firm steps to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Indonesia, he opined, was late in enforcing lockdown in the first place.
He said the government also often constructed the narrative of choosing between the economic and health sectors. “In fact, recklessly trying to relax [COVID-19 restrictions] for the sake of economic recovery, such as reopening tourist destinations, will become a blunder for the economy. It’s better to make a firm decision, if it decides to enforce lockdown, make it to a national level, not just for a province [because] it will not be effective,” said Bhima on Monday, June 21.
He cited an example that when China enforced lockdown, its economy plummeted to minus 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, but could later be positive to 3.2 percent in the second quarter and continue to grow to 18.3 percent in the first quarter of 2021.
“We must not hesitate to prioritize the health sector because the economic sector will eventually get the benefit. If the lockdown is effective, the economy will grow solidly, not as pseudo as it is currently,” said Bhima.
He believed that business actors would support lockdown as long as the government granted adequate compensation and conducted effective supervision in the field without discrimination.
Similar to Bhima’s statement, a senior economist from the University of Indonesia, Faisal Basri, earlier slammed the Jokowi government’s efforts in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. “Now, the most effective brake is lockdown. But it will not be enforced,” said Faisal in an online discussion on Monday, June 20.