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Jokowi says pandemic is opportunity to reform Indonesia for good

Published 14 Aug,2020 via Bloomberg Politics & Policy - The coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity to transform Indonesia’s economic, legal, health and education systems and put it on path to become a developed country, according to President Joko Widodo.

“We must turn this crisis into an opportunity to make big leaps,” Jokowi, as the president is known, said in his customary address to the joint house of parliament before the independence day. “And 25 years from now, at the centenary of the Republic of Indonesia, we must achieve great progress and make Indonesia a developed country.”

Indonesia has struggled to contain a surge in infections that followed the easing of social distancing rules since the end of May with the death toll nearing 6,000, the highest among Southeast Asian nations. The virus has also infected more than 130,000 people, with the confirmed cases more than doubling since the end of June, official data show.

“We must take lessons from this crisis. We must not let the crisis bring about setbacks,” Jokowi said. “In fact, we must capitalize on the crisis as a momentum to make a big leap.”

Jokowi’s administration has set aside about $50 billion in fiscal stimulus to counter the impact of the pandemic after temporarily scrapping a fiscal deficit limit and getting the central bank to directly finance government spending.

Indonesia’s economy shrank 5.32% year-on-year in the second quarter, its first contraction in more than two decades, as movement restrictions to contain the coronavirus outbreak decimated business. The government plans to spend as much as 1,476 trillion rupiah in the six months through December to boost the economy, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said last week.

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