Central, regional govts must harmonize COVID-19 policies: researcher

Central, regional govts must harmonize COVID-19 policies: researcher

A screen capture of the Indonesian Institute's research and program manager, Arfianto Purbolaksono, participating in a webinar originating from Jakarta on Thursday (November 25, 2021). (ANTARA/Sanya Dinda Susanti)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - A researcher from the Indonesian Institute, a non-governmental organization, has highlighted the need for harmonizing COVID-19 control policies of the central and regional governments to prevent policy overlap and conflict.

"If regional governments initiate new regulations, they need to coordinate with the central government to prevent the policy becoming counter-productive, as central and regional governments' harmony are paramount in national pandemic handling," the institute's research and program manager, Arfianto Purbolaksono, said in Jakarta on Thursday.

He suggested that the Home Affairs Ministry delineate the governance hierarchy to ensure regional regulations are in line with central government policies, including COVID-19 pandemic handling measures.

"Despite the necessity of a hierarchy, the central government must also provide some leeway to regional governments to adjust COVID-19 pandemic handling measures implemented in the respective regions, as any regulation must consider the actual situation in regions," Purbolaksono explained.

Meanwhile, the implementation of penalties against regional governments that deviate from central government directives must be done in complete prudence to ensure regulation uniformity, he noted.

"In the central-regional authorities relations' context, frequent sanctions against regional leaders may lead into the centralization of power to the central government," Purbolaksono warned.

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Regulation disharmony seen during the national COVID-19 emergency included differences in the imposition of quarantine and distribution of social benefits, the researcher said and highlighted a regulation conflict before the PON XX National Games last October.

"Shortly before the PON Games, a regional authority in Papua suggested the implementation of regional quarantine to stop COVID-19 infections occurring in the region, yet their suggestion was in conflict with existing regulations," he noted.

Issues during the distribution of COVID-19 social benefits were made more complicated by a lack of coordination between the central and regional governments, he pointed out.

"The four existing regulations used as a reference for recipients' data collection and distribution of social benefits were only for non-disaster situations, hence, no wonder, the data discrepancy between the central and regional governments occurred," Purbolaksono remarked.

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