Budi Sutrisno, Jakarta – Indonesia must export ready-to-use personal protective equipment (PPE) to South Korea as a form of compensation after the government bought raw materials from the country to meet domestic PPE production needs, COVID-19 task force chief Doni Monardo said on Monday.
"Please understand that no country can meet its own needs," the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) head said after a meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo via video conference on Monday.
Doni said the deal was a common one between countries needing to meet their logistics needs and that Indonesia should not risk a raw materials shortage by not cooperating with other countries.
"We should not just have other countries send PPE [raw materials] to our homeland and not give some [finished products] back. Once again, cooperation is very important," Doni said.
Previously, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said that Indonesia, as one of the world's largest PPE producers, had made an agreement with other countries, including South Korea and Japan, to contribute to their PPE supply.
She said the government would ensure that PPE exports would not affect domestic supply since Indonesia's trade partners had understood that the country was in need of PPE as well.
"Many countries desperately need PPE and require immediate supply to their country," Sri Mulyani said. "But South Korea and Japan have agreed that we should meet domestic needs before helping other countries that lack PPE manufacturers."
National Mandate Party (PAN) lawmaker Saleh Daulay, criticized the government's move amid the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, saying that it was alarming since the domestic need for PPE had yet to be fully met.
"It certainly leaves a concern in the community because the need for PPE in the country has not yet been fulfilled," Saleh told kompas.com on Friday, adding that the government should prioritize all resources for national countermeasures.
The government said it aimed to produce 16,000 pieces of PPE per day and claimed to have distributed as many as 700,000 pieces to all provinces in Indonesia as of April 9, with plans to distribute another 300,000.