Ghina Ghaliya, Jakarta – The House of Representatives has initiated a revision to the Law No. 24/2007 on disaster mitigation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the bill mandating that the government allocate an endowment fund for disaster relief.
Article 67 of the bill, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post, includes a provision that the fund allocated for disaster management must reach 2 percent of the annual state budget.
Ace Hasan Syadzily, the deputy chairman of House Commission VIII overseeing disaster and social affairs, said the country's disaster management budget was too low according to prevailing regulations, resulting in fundamental budget reallocations when disasters occur.
"The budget allocation could be adjusted later, as well as whether it all goes to the BNPB [the National Disaster Mitigation Agency] or to other ministries and state institutions. The point is, the BNPB won't only respond to disasters but also mitigate them," the Golkar Party politician said.
In financing the government's COVID-19 mitigation effort, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati announced in March that the government would reallocate Rp 27 trillion (US$1.8 billion) from the state budget previously earmarked for ministries, state institutions and regional administrations to fund the healthcare system.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo also called on regional administrations to reallocate their budgets to fund ongoing COVID-19 mitigation efforts, as the country scrambled to slow the spread of the deadly disease across the archipelago.
The government has also set aside Rp 695.2 trillion in funds for healthcare and economic stimulus spending to cushion the impact of the outbreak, from the previous allocation of Rp 677.2 trillion.
BNPB head Doni Monardo, who also leads the national task force to contain the disease in the country, said the agency's budget had been consecutively reduced from 2017 to 2020.
This year's budget, for example, was only Rp 450 billion, a reduction of 26.7 percent from the previous year.
"There is a significant gap in disaster management needs and our budget availability," said Doni.
Article 14 of the bill also gives the BNPB authority to form regional forces to accelerate disaster management and cut down on bureaucracy, in line with the agency's plan to build disaster management centers in several regions.
Doni went on to say that the BNPB would establish at least seven disaster relief logistics centers, three emergency preparedness centers and three crisis command centers as the Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) in some regions still needed assistance.
"We've communicated our plan to build such centers with the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry," Doni said.