President Jokowi looking to use Covid-19 as an opportunity to restart and reboot

August 17 was a special Independence Day for Indonesia, the largest country in ASEAN. The archipelago nation celebrated the 75th anniversary of its independence from colonial Dutch rule. And rather than dwell on the fears and uncertainties around the global Covid-19 pandemic, Indonesian President Joko Widodo used his annual state of nation address to the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), the joint house of parliament of the country, on the eve of the country’s Independence Day to deliver a message of hope.

He described the economic crisis that the country was facing because of the coronavirus pandemic as a computer crash which provided the country an opportunity to restart the system. “All countries must undergo a brief shutdown, restart and reboot,” President Jokowi said in a message of hope. He challenged the nation and its people to be more audacious in their ambitions. “Twenty-five years from now, when the Republic is one century old, we must make the great leap and become a developed nation,” Jokowi said in his address, reminding Indonesians that this was a landmark Independence Day that they were celebrating.

Considering that Indonesia is among the worst hit countries in the region by the Covid-19 outbreak which has taken a heavy toll on its economy with millions losing jobs across sectors, Jokowi’s Independence Day message brought a message of hope. “We must turn this crisis into an opportunity to make big leaps,” he said. Later in his annual budget speech Jokowi also announced a US$ 50 billion  fiscal stimulus package to counter the impact of the pandemic. The Indonesian government’s steps to respond to the Covid19 situation includes economic stimulus and social safety packages as well as financing of massive production of the COVID-19 vaccine and its tests.

Other highlights of President Jokowi’s address to the nation included the need for partnership with private sector and farming community to ensure food security; industrial estates to be built in various regions to boost employment opportunities and continued focus on processing of natural resources such as nickel ore, palm oil and coal to reduce Indonesia’s current-account deficit.



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