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Business circle upbeat about COVID-19 vaccine ending uncertainty

Business circle upbeat about COVID-19 vaccine ending uncertainty

As many as 1.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine ordered from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd arrived at Bio Farma headquarters in Bandung West Java. ANTARA/Doc. Bio Farma Public Relations

We laud the government's fast response, and (arrival of the vaccine) will offer a sense of certainty
The government believes that national economic recovery will principally hinge on the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine becoming available after which distribution among the public and acceleration of treatment of COVID-19 patients will be conducted.

Indonesia's business community has lauded the arrival of 1.2 million doses of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine in Jakarta on Dec 6, 2020, from China, as it raises hopes not only for a health solution but also for economic recovery.

Apart from the 1.2 million doses of the vaccine, the government is also working on 1.8 million doses of the vaccine to arrive in early January 2021. The vaccine that arrived has passed the phase III clinical trials in Bandung since August 2020.

In addition to the completed vaccine, there will be bulk raw materials for producing 15 million doses of vaccine in December this year and 30 million doses of vaccine in January 2021 to be further processed by PT Bio Farma Persero.

Related news: Vaccine, health protocol prerequisite for economic recovery: BI

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan earlier noted that the government will likely commence the first phase of COVID-19 immunization in the third week of December this year.

However, the government is awaiting emergency-use authorization from Indonesia's Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) to commence the first phase of the program.

The BPOM is still awaiting results of the Phase 3 clinical trials of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine in Brazil and will collate research data from the Phase 3 clinical trials for the Chinese vaccine candidate in Brazil and Indonesia to determine its safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity, according to BPOM head Penny K. Lukito.

Indonesia has established cooperation with WHO and several countries, including China, South Korea, the UK, and the UAE, for supplying COVID-19 vaccines. Besides this, the nation is also developing its indigenous vaccine called Red and White.

The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) lauded the availability of the Chinese vaccine in Indonesia, as it projected it to boost public confidence and security and dispel current uncertainty.

Related news: Sinovac's 1.2 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses to dispel uncertainty: Kadin

"Alhamdulillah (thank God), of course, we welcome (the vaccine), because in 2021, the game changers would be first, the (COVID-19) vaccine and second, the job creation law," Kadin Chief Rosan Roeslani stated on Dec 7.

Availability of the COVID-19 vaccine will encourage people to resume their activities and spending, thereby boosting demand, he pointed out.

"We laud the government's fast response, and (arrival of the vaccine) will offer a sense of certainty. Hopefully, it would also boost the health sector and bring about economic recovery," he remarked.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, has shared a similar view, saying that the availability of COVID-19 vaccines would help boost public confidence in health and national economic recovery.

"We are waiting for the emergency-use authorization procedure from BPOM, and this is the government's priority," he added.

The minister expressed belief that the COVID-19 vaccine would serve as a driver for full economic recovery in line with the implementation of the government’s gas-and-brake policy to curb the number of COVID-19 cases.

Hartarto pointed out that despite the continued rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, the country’s recovery rate of 82.91 percent was higher than the global average, so it can be viewed as a positive signal amid the relaxation of community activities.

The minister is optimistic of economic recovery as in the third quarter, the figure improved, from minus 5.32 percent to minus 3.49 percent, supported by the expansion of manufacturing activity.

The recovery has also been reflected in the growth recorded in various sectors, such as agriculture, information and communication technology, manufacturing, construction, trade and external resilience.

Furthermore, Governor of Bank Indonesia (BI) Perry Warjiyo expressed belief that availability of vaccines and application of health protocols were the prerequisite for facilitating economic recovery.

"I explain that there is one prerequisite of vaccination and discipline in implementing COVID-19 health protocols since COVID-19 lies at the epicenter of the problems we face," Warjiyo remarked.

The government's move to order vaccines and conduct vaccination in the near future will further build optimism for economic recovery, the BI governor noted.

"Insyaa Allah, (the government) will conduct vaccination in the near future. Bank Indonesia also funds this vaccination from part of the burden-sharing funds in the 2020 State Budget," he remarked.

Warjiyo highlighted that the second prerequisite for economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 was sound synergy among various parties.

The various prerequisites must be fulfilled to coincide with better prospects for Indonesia's economy in 2021, according to the BI governor.

Warjiyo projects that Indonesia's economic growth in the fourth quarter will rebound as indicated by the -5.34 percent contraction and later improving to -3.9 percent in the third quarter.

The minister has forecast the Indonesian economy to clock growth in the range of 4.8 percent to 5.8 percent, supported by consumption, exports, and investment.

Inflation is estimated to be at a low level, under two percent in 2020 and in the range of three percent, give or take one percent, in 2021.

The rupiah exchange rate will be stable and tend to strengthen. External stability is maintained with a balance of payments surplus and a current account deficit of below 1.5 percent of the 2020 and 2021 Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Financial system stability is estimated to be maintained, although currently, the credit is low, but with the economic recovery process, credit, and third-party funds reaching a range of seven to nine percent.

"We view that the economic recovery process is taking place. Hence, we need to encourage optimism for better economic performance next year," Warjiyo added.

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