Ghina Ghaliya, Jakarta – Lawmakers in the House of Representatives Commission IX, which oversees health care, have defended Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto over President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's criticism of low spending on the health sector amid the country's struggle to contain COVID-19.
In a video of a closed-door Cabinet meeting on June 18, published by the Presidential Secretariat on Monday, Jokowi threatened to reshuffle his ministers for their slow outbreak response. He specifically called out the Health Ministry for having spent only 1.53 percent of its Rp 75 trillion (U$5.2 billion) budget.
House Commission IX members held a hearing with Terawan on Monday morning and asked the minister about the criticism. They decided that the President's criticism was "not completely correct".
"Pak Jokowi wasn't completely correct about [the budget disbursement]. It's a pity for the minister," commission chairwoman Felly Estelita Runtuwene said after the hearing.
The NasDem Party politician explained that while the COVID-19 budget for the health sector had increased from Rp 75 trillion to Rp 87.55 trillion, of the total, only Rp 25.73 trillion was managed by the Health Ministry.
Of the Rp 25.73 trillion, Felly said Rp 1.503 trillion had been allocated for COVID-19 test kits, Rp 33.53 billion for laboratory services, Rp 21.86 trillion for health services, Rp 136 billion for pharmacy and medical devices, Rp 1.96 trillion for health workers and Rp 229.75 billion for public health programs.
"Of that total, only Rp 1.96 trillion is on the ministry's DIPA [budget execution lists] and 17.6 percent has been spent; Rp 331.29 billion for health workers' incentives and Rp 14.1 billion for compensation for the death of health workers," she said.
She added that the rest of the budget was still being reviewed by the Finance Ministry. "It is not included in the Health Ministry's DIPA, so it can't be spent yet."
The rest of the Rp 87.55 trillion allocated for the health sector was managed by the Finance Ministry and the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), she added.
"However, we will keep an eye on the Health Ministry's spending, which indeed isn't optimal."
Golkar Party lawmaker Melki Laka Lena echoed Felly's sentiments. "The President's speech on low spending in the health sector must be seen in the right context," the said commission's deputy chairman.