Prioritizing Economy Over Health Is a Mistake, Says Economist

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  • Faisal Basri. TEMPO/M. Taufan Rengganis

    Faisal Basri. TEMPO/M. Taufan Rengganis

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - INDEF senior economist Faisal Basri in a virtual seminar on Friday said Indonesia’s key mistake in handling the COVID-19 pandemic was its initial approach that put the country's economy over public health.

    “This mistake happened from the beginning. This prolonged the pandemic and it worsened because the economy was made a god-like figure and investments were worshipped,” said Faisal Basri in the online seminar on July 16.

    He argued this was evident in the structure of the committee tasked to handle the pandemic, dubbed the COVID-19 handling and national economic recovery committee (KPC-PEN), which is led by Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto. 

    The chief executive position was given to another economic figure, SOEs Minister Erick Thohir, while the committee’s secretary position was taken by Raden Pardede from the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin). 

    Faisal Basri believed the government failed to acknowledge the inputs from the healthcare aspect, especially as the Emergency PPKM (public activity restriction) is led by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan.  

    “The voices from the healthcare sector are unheeded. Especially when Luhut speaks, everybody would keep silent. And [he] only wants to listen to the inputs he prefers,” said Faisal Basri at the event. 

    The sluggish response in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, he added, had caused a relatively slow growth of Indonesia’s economy compared to other countries. 

    Read: Rising COVID-19 Case: Jokowi Says Economy and Health Must Go Side by Side

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