Cases of COVID-19 had been declining but this week they edged up 4% week-on-week. With less than 10% of the population vaccinated and the Muslim end-of-fasting-month approaching, anxiety of a new wave is building, even though the government will restrict travel. The government’s drug approving arm (BPOM) rejected the Phase I tests of a unconventional COVID vaccine (Nusantara Vaccine) originating from a US firm (Aivita) because of serious illness and lack of data consistency. However, its champion, former Health Minister Putranto, is moving ahead with a Phase II trial using an Army Hospital he once headed. The head of BPOM (Food and Drug Agency) Penny Lukito endured a backlash from Parliament’s Health Commission, questioning her “patriotism”.
Another local vaccine effort, Merah Putih Vaccine, under the auspices of a local institute (Eijkman) is proceeding but is not ready for deployment.
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, or humanitarian reasons. Visit Indonesian Immigration (https://www.imigrasi.go.id) and the Indonesian Embassy (https://kemlu.go.id/washington/en) for updated visa and entry requirements as regulations may change frequently.
Indonesia’s Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno says the country aims to welcome back foreign tourists to the resort islands of Bali, Bintan, and Batam by the end of July 2021, with a plan to speed up vaccinations in those areas to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
AICC can help secure business visas for traveling to Indonesia. Please contact our office at (212) 687-4505 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
· Citi Selling Retail Units: Citibank announced plans to exit retail banking in 13 countries including India, China, and Indonesia. Noting its lack of scale in approaching consumer lending in these markets, Citi CEO Jane Fraser said the bank will focus on institutional lending and private wealth management. Citi is in the process of selling its consumer banking business in Indonesia. Citi Indonesia CEO Batara Sianturi said in a press statement: “During the selling process, our consumer banking operations, such as branch offices, call centers and digital services, will operate normally.” Meanwhile, the bank will continue providing corporate and investment banking services through Citi’s Institutional Clients Group (ICG) as well as capital market services through PT Citigroup Sekuritas Indonesia.
· Exports Up: Indonesia’s export value in March hit its highest level since August 2011 as global economic activity rebounds, sustaining progress in the country’s trade recovery. Statistics Indonesia (BPS) reported the export value rose 30.47% year-on-year (YoY) to US$18.35 billion in March, the highest level since the $18.64 billion booked in August 2011. On a monthly basis, the export value was up 20.3%. “The rise in demand from various countries along with [price] increases in Indonesia’s main commodities had a large impact on the country’s export performance in March,” BPS head Suhariyanto said in a virtual briefing. He gave the example of coal, kernel oil, palm oil, copper, aluminum, and lead as major export commodities that saw strong price increases on a monthly basis.
· BKPM Now a Ministry: President Jokowi upgraded the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) to a Ministry and downgraded the Ministry of Research as a department within the Ministry of Culture and Education.
COVID Relief Scammers Arrested: After tips from the US government, Indonesia apprehended two Indonesian hackers over an international scam in which $60 million was stolen from a COVID-19 aid program helping Americans left jobless by the pandemic, authorities said. Text messages were sent to 20 million Americans directing them to more than a dozen fake US government websites, police in East Java said late Thursday. “Some 30,000 US citizens were scammed and the government’s financial loss is up to $60 million,” said East Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Nico Afinta. The two suspects were arrested last month in Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya after police were notified by US authorities.
(sources: International and Indonesia news media, Bali Update (from balidiscovery.com), Reformasi Weekly, US Embassy website)