Corona Virus Update #72 July 19, 2021
|Cumulative number of reported cases: 2,950,058 (as of 7/20)
· Deaths: 76,200
Rupiah to US: 14,524
Overview– Indonesia looking for COVID Medications
Indonesia is hoping to import hundreds of thousands of doses of COVID therapeutic medications in addition to increasing the supply of vaccines. AICC was scheduled to meet in NY with Minister of National Planning Suharso Monoarfa last Friday (he was attending a UN session) but he was called away to an emergency Zoom Cabinet meeting. His deputy met with AICC President Wayne Forrest on Monday. He will stay in NY for a few days to try to locate suppliers of remdesivir, actemra, or other viable COVID medications. AICC is assisting and has contacted Pfizer, Regneron, and Gilead Science.
Case growth surged 44% for the third week in a row attracting worldwide headlines and stories in major dailies such as the NY Times calling Indonesia a “COVID epicenter”. But high nationwide positivity in COVID tests suggests that Indonesia may be reaching a peak as occurred in India. If so, a decline in cases may be occurring soon. Muda-mudahan (bahasa for “hopefully”)
· Sinovac, a Chinese COVID vaccine, is proving to only be partially effective, especially against the Delta variant. 114 Indonesian doctors, previously inoculated, have died since July 1. Indonesia is arranging front line workers and doctors to receive Moderna shots as boosters.
· Public celebrations and mass gatherings at mosques for Idul Adha (Muslim day of sacrifice) were banned but many gathered anyway outside them anyway.
· The social and work-from-home restrictions released last week (See Memo #71) have been extended until the end of July, but many expect them to last into August.
· Under public pressure President Jokowi revoked a program to sell vaccines to the public via state pharmaceutical firm Kimia Farma. Meanwhile, the Gotong Royong vaccination program will proceed under its initial method, which allows private companies to pay for COVID-19 vaccines for their employees.
Travel-Vaccines Now Required
Foreigners arriving in Indonesia are now required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and must quarantine for 8 days.
Indonesia has not yet opened access for visa-on-arrival and visa-free during the COVID-19 pandemic, except for foreigners with essential purposes such as businesses, works, diplomatic or humanitarian reasons. Bali is now requiring negative PCR tests for all domestic travelers.
Travel/quarantine anecdote: An AICC member now quarantining in Indonesia reports that upon issuing his room key at the Ritz Carlton Jakarta the concierge told the key would only allow one entrance. Effective deterrent.
· Countries/territories that prohibit passengers/flights departing from Indonesia due to Covid-19: Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Oman, UAE, EU, Bahrain
· Airplane Passengers from Indonesia Are Prohibited from Entering the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
· Indonesians applying for visas to visit the US are receiving November interview dates due to pandemic-related restrictions at the US Embassy.
· New Payment Systems Regulations: Bank Indonesia (BI) has put into effect minimum initial capital requirements for payment system providers in order to tighten control over the country’s burgeoning financial technology (fintech) companies. The central bank announced the issuance of two derivative regulations of BI Regulation No. 23/2021 that officially impose such requirements on payment service providers (PJP) and payment system infrastructure providers (PIP). The regulations came into effect on July 1. The PJP category includes e-wallets, such as ShopeePay, GoPay and OVO, payment gateway providers such as Midtrans and Cashlez, and other non-bank financial institutions. Meanwhile, the PIP includes switching companies such as ATM Bersama and ALTO.
· Exports Gain Ground: Indonesia’s exports of manufactured goods increased 33.45% to reach US$81.07 billion in the first half of 2021 as compared to the corresponding period last year, according to the Industry Ministry.
· Rating Agencies Issue Warning: Indonesia’s surge in COVID-19 infections threatens to hamper government plans to reduce its fiscal deficit and could undermine the credit rating of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday. The rating agency’s comments came days after S&P Global Ratings said the country’s growing coronavirus outbreak was adding downside pressures on its economy and credit conditions. Moody’s rates Indonesia’s debt at Baa2, one notch above its lowest investment grade rating, with a stable outlook, similar to Fitch Ratings.
· Extended Tax Cuts: As of July 1 the government has extended at least six tax incentives until December 2021 to support businesses and workers amid the tightening of mobility restrictions but has shrunk their scope to relieve fiscal pressure. The Finance Ministry recently issued regulation No. 82/2021, which extends incentives related to personal income tax, corporate income tax, income tax for small businesses, final income tax for construction services, import duties and value-added taxes.
· SOE Debt: A sign of the times, Indonesia’s largest construction state-owned enterprise (SOE) Waskita Karya has successfully rescheduled all but 35% of its debt overhang. It reached a Rp 19.3 trillion (US$1.33 billion) loan restructuring agreement with five state-owned banks to alleviate the debt of Indonesia’s largest state-owned construction company. State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Minister Erick Thohir said the agreement covered 65 percent of Waskita’s total loan debt of Rp 29.26 trillion. The five creditors are PT Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), PT Bank Mandiri, PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), PT Bank Syariah Indonesia (BSI) and PT Bank Pembangunan Daerah Jawa Barat (BJB). “There is still 35 percent left [of Waskita Karya’s debt] that needs to be solved,” Erick said in a statement on Friday.
USAID Hopes to Do More: To date USAID has provided technical assistance on testing/tracing, vaccine roll out. They have also provided 1000 ventilators and 4.5M Moderna vaccine does and expects to do much more in the near future as new emergency funds are approved. This is in addition to vaccines the US has helped Indonesia purchase via the COVAX facility.
(sources: International and Indonesia news media, Bali Update (from balidiscovery.com), Reformasi Weekly, US Embassy website)