Indonesia targets economic recovery as mass Covid-19 vaccination starts

A health worker receives a shot of Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in Bali, Indonesia on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. - AP

JAKARTA (Xinhua): A few minutes after receiving a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday (JAN 14), Indonesian Deputy Health Minister Dante Saksono tried to feel the effect to his body.

"It doesn't feel anything (pain)," said Saksono at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital, a government-run hospital in Jakarta.

Indonesia launched its massive Covid-19 vaccination programme on Thursday with health workers as the main priority group, a day after President Joko Widodo received the first shot developed by China's biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech.

Indonesia is targeting to vaccinate 181.5 million people until next year, in order to create herd immunity against the pandemic. Controlling the outbreak is a key factor to recover its economy which contracted sharply last year.

In the first quarter of 2020, Indonesia still recorded a positive growth of 2.97 per cent year-on-year, before witnessing a contraction of 5.32 per cent in the second quarter and a 3.49-percent fall in the third quarter.

The national vaccination programme provides a new hope for the pandemic control, and a stepping stone for Indonesia to deal with its economic downturn.

Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi believed that the vaccination drive is an important momentum for the country's economic recovery.

"The reference for our economic improvement comes from the success of fighting Covid-19," he said.

Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita is optimistic that the growth will be in the range between 4.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent this year.

"The game-changer for the national economic recovery during the pandemic is the implementation of this vaccination," he said.

This estimate is in line with global growth projections by a number of international agencies, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank.

However, Enny Sri Hartanti, a researcher at the Indonesian Institute for Development of Economics and Finance, an independent research agency, believed that controlling Covid-19 alone is not sufficient to restore Indonesia's economy.

The pandemic had a strong impact on the fundamental structure of the Indonesian economy, especially in the labor sector after a massive lay-off, she said.

The government must restore the manufacturing sector to create more jobs, recover people's purchasing power, and move again to the real sectors, she added.

"Economic shifting cannot be in the short term. Let alone 58 per cent of Indonesia's economic growth is determined by household-spending," she said.

Meanwhile, Yose Rizal Damuri, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that Indonesia had large capital to quickly recover from the crisis as 60 per cent of the country's economy depends on the domestic sector.

"Even if the United States or Europe is still in crisis, Indonesia can recover the economy quickly, as long as the outbreak is under control," he said.

Indonesia's economy will recover soon if the government can convince the market that the outbreak is under control and there is economic certainty, said Damuri.

Indonesia must also continue its economic stimulus to address the impact of the Covid-19, said the expert.

"The analogy is not to stop stimulus when the economy has not yet come out of the woods," he said.

In addition, Indonesia needs to improve its connectivity with the global economy and prepare itself for the digital economy, he said.

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Indonesia , economy , vaccination , covid-19


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