Riska Rahman, Jakarta – The government will move up the distribution of the much-vaunted pre-employment cards to March in a bid to mitigate the adverse effects of the coronavirus outbreak on the country's economy, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has said.
"Rp 10 trillion [US$719.57 million] has been allocated for 2 million people to receive the pre-employment cards and to begin vocational training," said Sri Mulyani in Jakarta on Wednesday. "The implementation was supposed to be mid-year but the President has said that it will now start in March."
Through the pre-employment card program, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo hopes to reduce the unemployment rate and teach new skills to Indonesia's workforce to keep up with the ever-changing digital economy and combat job losses as a result of automation.
Sri Mulyani said some 500,000 jobseekers would receive the card during the first stages of the program's implementation, during which the government would disburse Rp 2 trillion for training.
"The government is ready to conduct the program in order to boost economic growth in the first quarter, which will be [adversely] affected by the coronavirus," she said.
The government has also prepared Rp 443 billion in incentives for airlines and travel agents to lure foreign visitors, providing 30 percent discounts for tickets to a number of destinations for three months.
Furthermore, the government will also make Rp 3.3 trillion available for regional governments to compensate them for losses due to the government's decision to waive restaurant and hotel taxes for the next six months.
As of Thursday, more than 80,000 confirmed novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases had been reported in at least 40 countries, including neighboring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Australia.
There have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia to date. (awa)