Arys Aditya and Harry Suhartono – Indonesia will focus on infrastructure projects and social programs worth $97 billion over the next five years as President Joko Widodo seeks to rescue Southeast Asia's largest economy from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
The government has added 56 new projects including five industrial estates, 13 dams and five airports to its priority list, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said at a briefing in Jakarta Friday. The so-called national strategic projects will also include social and health programs and development of five tourist sites, he said.
The projects with an estimated investment outlay of 1,422 trillion rupiah ($97 billion) may help Indonesia beat a slump in economic activity triggered by the pandemic that's killed more than 1,500 people, the most among Southeast Asian countries. The nation's economic growth is now forecast to more than halve to 2.3% this year with the risk of a contraction looming under a worst-case scenario, according to the finance ministry.
"Even though we are currently facing a pandemic, strategic agendas that are very important for our nation must not stop," Jokowi, as the president is commonly known, told a cabinet meeting in Jakarta. "It's very important to prioritize projects that have a large leverage toward post-pandemic economic recovery."
The new projects are set to provide jobs to around 4 million people each year, taking the total employment potential to around 19 million in five years, Hartarto said.
With the pandemic battering the economy, especially the small and medium businesses, about 8.6 million Indonesians have signed up for a government program offering cash allowance and online training. The government is now working on a plan to reopen the economy in phases starting next month even after new cases more than doubled in May.
The virus outbreak may delay the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail project being jointly developed with China by one year and the government will explore extending the network to Surabaya, Hartarto said. The government will prioritize development of tourist destinations Lake Toba, Borobudur, Mandalika, Labuan Bajo and North Sulawesi, according to Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono.