JAKARTA: Indonesia needs fundamental and major reforms in the economy, law, health and education sectors as COVID-19 has taken a toll on the country’s development, said President Joko Widodo on Friday (Aug 14).
Speaking at the annual State of the Nation Address ahead of the country's 75th Independence Day, Mr Widodo said that every country in the world has been affected by the pandemic but Indonesia’s economy is still doing better than a lot of developed countries.
“In the first quarter of 2020, our economic growth was 2.97 per cent but in the second quarter, we saw a contraction of 5.32 per cent.
“The economy in developed countries even contracted by double digit percentage points, up to 17 per cent. The setbacks faced by many of these big countries can be an opportunity and momentum for us to catch up,” he said in the parliament.
The president, known popularly as Jokowi, likened the current economic crisis to a computer crash which every country must restart, reboot and reset.
He reflected how the pandemic has forced Indonesia to take extraordinary measures and "smart shortcuts".
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Last month, Jokowi announced the establishment of a food estate in Central Kalimantan province by turning land into paddy fields. Another food estate will be developed in North Sumatra, he announced in his Friday speech.
Apart from food security, Mr Widodo also said that Indonesia is heading towards energy independence after implementing a mandatory use of biodiesel with 30 per cent of palm oil, known as B30.
The State of the Nation Address was held with less than half of the Members of Parliament present due to the pandemic. The majority of lawmakers followed the meeting online.
Indonesia has budgeted 695.2 trillion rupiah (US$47 billion) worth of stimulus for 2020 to protect the country's economy from the impact of COVID-19, but despite that, it recorded a contraction for the first time in more than 20 years.
The country is still battling COVID-19, with more than 132,000 infections and about 6,000 deaths as of Friday.