Fadli, Batam – Riau Islands acting governor Isdianto has urged manufacturing companies operating in the Batam bonded zone in the province to temporarily shut down their factories to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Riau Islands administration declared a state of emergency on March 18 in the province to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus. It is now urging industries to join the effort by closing their factories to contain the spread of the virus.
The emergency declaration prompted the closure of schools and sent public servants home.
"We urge industries to temporarily halt their activities or, in other words, to send their workers home. We will issue a notice of the appeal," Isdianto said on the sidelines of his visit to Galang Island's infectious disease isolation and observation facility in Batam on Saturday.
He said that an economic downturn was a risk that everyone had to take in order to stop the spread of the virus. He said he hoped for understanding from the companies who would bear the brunt of the potential shutdown.
"Do we want economic activities to continue or for COVID-19 to immediately recede? If the [industrial] activity continues, the [COVID-19] problem will linger, and we afraid that there will be an even bigger loss in the future," he said.
As of Tuesday, the Riau Islands had confirmed four COVID-19 cases – with two of the cases from Batam city – and had placed hundreds of people under observation (PDP) because they had been in contact with COVID-19 patients or had recently traveled to virus-stricken regions.
Besides urging industries to temporarily shut down their factories, Isdianto also assured residents that staple stocks for consumption in the province remained sufficient for the next four months after visiting the Riau Islands' State Logistics Agency (Bulog) warehouse on Saturday.
Batam Mayor Muhammad Rudi said his administration could not impose a lockdown on the city, as President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had strictly forbidden local authorities to lock down their respective regions.
"I don't have any plan to impose a lockdown in Batam, as it's the president's jurisdiction. We'll be waiting for the president's instruction if there's a lockdown," he said.
Batam's Industrial Zones Association (HKI) vice-chairman Tjaw Hoeing previously said that companies inside the zone had just begun to resume operations after long suspensions. The COVID-19 outbreak in China severely disrupted the industries' supply chains, leading to shortages of raw materials.
Even without factories closing, Tjaw projected that industrial exports from Batam would drop significantly over the next few weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic had affected wide areas in Europe and the United States.
At the national level, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati projected on Wednesday that the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth would drop to between 4.5 and 4.9 percent in the first quarter, with the possibility of plunging further in the second quarter as economic activity weakened.
The central government tried to dampen the economic effects of COVID-19 by deploying a second stimulus package worth Rp 22.9 trillion (US$1.3 billion) on March 13 that included individual and corporate tax breaks as well as the relaxation of loan disbursements and restructuring requirements.
It also unveiled a non-fiscal stimulus package that included a reduction in the number of goods prohibited for import and the acceleration of import and export processing and licensing, especially for reputable traders. (mpr)