Jakarta (ANTARA) - A top Indonesian minister spoke of the working visit budget encompassing domestic and overseas trips being diverted to help people, so that the country's economy runs smoothly amid global concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a videoconferencing here on Wednesday, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan stated that the COVID-19 outbreak had also resulted in the imposition of global travel restrictions.

"The total funds of this working visit budget are high enough. Well, tens of trillions of rupiah. President Joko Widodo has instructed against undertaking overseas trips, and we agree with him amid the global travel restrictions," he revealed.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has given orders to channel the funds directly to assist people in dire need, so that the country's economy could continue to run, he stated, emphasizing on the need for secure supplies of basic necessities.

President Jokowi had also paid a visit to a warehouse of State Logistics Agency (Bulog) to ensure the availability of rice stocks amid the ongoing global pandemic of COVID-19, Pandjaitan remarked.

The minister suggested that aid packages be distributed to community members in dire need by collaborating with ride-hailing giants, Gojek and Grab, to keep the country's economy running.

President Jokowi had earlier instructed his ministers to not utilize their budgets for organizing unnecessary meetings and trips but instead channel them to drive the economy of the people, including laborers, farmers, fishermen, and small entrepreneurs.

In dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Pandjaitan remarked that the government had yet to include the imposition of a lockdown in its options. China and South Korea could immediately contain the viral disease owing to the high level of discipline of its people.

"Hence, please respect the government's directives," he noted.

The government has comprehensively evaluated all aspects in its decision-making process for the best way forward, he remarked.

Unlike Indonesia, the governments of Malaysia and the Philippines had activated their COVID-19 lockdown to thwart the spread of the virus that has killed over 8,900 people and infected at least 218,900 people worldwide.

In response to this policy, the Indonesian Embassy in Manila, for instance, has appealed to Indonesians residing on Luzon Island to remain calm in response to the Philippines Government's decision to extend its enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The Philippine Government has guaranteed the availability of staple food stocks, so all Indonesians residing in affected areas need not panic, the embassy remarked in a press statement.

ECQ and social distancing policies are being strictly applied in Luzon, the Philippines' largest and most populous island, from March 17 to April 13. Related news: Minister instructs local governments to apportion budget for COVID-19
Related news: Govt sets aside Rp160 tln budget stimulus to tackle COVID-19 fallout


Translator: Ade IJ, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto
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