Govt channels official budget for meetings for COVID-19 handling

Govt channels official budget for meetings for COVID-19 handling

Screenshot - Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati at a press conference after the Plenary Cabinet Session in Jakarta, on Monday (7/5/2021). (ANTARA/Indra Arief).

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Finance Minister Sri Mulyani intends on redeploying the budget for official travel, meeting packages, building construction, vehicles, and other budgets, reaching Rp26.2 trillion, to increase funds for handling COVID-19 and for driving economic recovery.

"To finance various additional needs in the health sector, social protection and priority incentive programs, we need to do a second refocusing to be able to finance all the major requirements in the health sector, social assistance, and support for the community," Sri Mulyani noted at a press conference after a plenary cabinet session here on Monday.

During a cabinet meeting chaired by President Joko Widodo, the minister remarked that the government's budget refocusing would set aside around Rp26.2 trillion and an additional Rp6 trillion from the post for expenditure on financial transfers and village funds.

The minister affirmed that the budget transfer was deemed crucial to finance the increasing needs for handling COVID-19, such as for specimen testing, contact tracing, and also treating COVID-19 patients.

Related news: Health minister ensures budget still available for handling COVID-19

Sri Mulyani highlighted that her ministry had continued to set aside budgets to be diverted to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. However, she also ensured that this budget diversion would not entail the slashing of vital expenditures at ministries and agencies, such as operational spending, multi-year contract spending, COVID-19 handling spending, and funds for national economic recovery at ministries and agencies, including spending for disaster management.

"Refocusing should not interfere with the ministry or agency spending, as the spending for these needs has been secured for operational expenditure, employee spending, multi-year contract spending, economic recovery spending, and handling COVID-19, as well as spending for disaster management. Funds for these expenditures will not be affected by refocusing," the minister elaborated.

The budget to be affected by the refocusing is honorarium expenditure, official travel, meeting packages, service expenditure, office building construction, procurement of vehicles and equipment/machinery, budget for activities that were contracted, and budget not likely to be implemented immediately this year.

"The president and vice president have instructed that this priority be focused on helping the community, especially in the health sector, and other assistance for people impacted by a surge in COVID-19 cases, thereby necessitating an emergency PPKM policy," the finance minister stated. Related news: Draft state budget must focus on COVID handling: House Speaker