Strengthen People’s Unity and Solidarity for the Right to Public Health (ILPS Indonesia Statement for April 15 Global Day of Solidarity for Public Health)

Strengthen People’s Unity and Solidarity for the Right to Public Health!
Joko Widodo’s Government Must Provide Guaranteed Safety, Health and Life for All People!

The world crisis continues to show worsening symptoms amid the COVID-19 pandemic which has spread to more than 206 countries and regions. COVID-19 has infected more than 2 million people worldwide, with fatalities of more than 125 thousand. At present the new epicenter of COVID-19 is in the United States and European regions, especially Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

COVID-19 is the worst pandemic after the Spanish flu of 1918. This pandemic also brings reality to the failure of neoliberalism in saving itself from the crisis that has been whacking from time to time– the economic and financial crisis, the environmental crisis and the current crisis for the health system. COVID-19 opens wide the face of bad service guarantees and the current health system; a system that does not have a plan for an emergency situation, and without a policy or firm action in saving the people. This is due to the liberalization of the health system which makes many countries not have the sovereignty to run their public health system.

As before, efforts to reduce the impact of the crisis have always been efforts to save the financial system of imperialism through efforts to reduce the impact of production cuts and stimulus guarantees to industries and financial institutions. While the people, especially the working class, are the ones who suffer the most from the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, they also suffer from job losses, economic and medium and small trade destruction and bankruptcy.

Quarantine policies and large-scale restrictions are often accompanied by oppression and repression to become a tool to criminalize popular movements, especially against the poor who suffer greatly in the midst of this epidemic.

Joko Widodo’s administration from the beginning showed no competency in dealing with the crisis. It is increasingly visible how the great the depravity of Joko Widodo’s administration is in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is no clear policy to run a public health system that is open and oriented towards saving the people. There is no scheme to save and guarantee health workers to work with protection. The people were left alone to solve their own problems in the midst of the plague, as well as health workers who were left to work without adequate safety guarantees. Note that Indonesia is one of the countries with the lowest number of mass tests in the world, not to mention the fact that mass testing kits that were used several times were ineffective.

Since 31 March 2020, the government has established a Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) policy to deal with the spread of COVID-19. This policy goes hand in hand with massive social restrictions, such as public transportation, meetings, crowds including the closure of offices. But in fact most of the workers in Jabodetabek still have to work fully. The working class is forced to work in the midst of the plague for the sake of the sustainability of the corporation’s business, without regard to their safety and health.

PSBB was in fact only an attempt by the Joko Widodo regime to avoid its responsibility to guarantee the social and economic rights of the people during the COVID-19 emergency. Joko Widodo tried to avoid his obligation to provide and guarantee the basic needs of the people at low prices and even free direct assistance, mass health facilities to guarantee for work and wages during an emergency. A concrete example is how confused Joko Widodo’s administration was in dealing with this situation which coincided with the holy month of Ramadan and Eid. Even to save the people during the mudik season, Joko Widodo’s government is confused and has no clear scheme.

The Joko Widodo administration indeed set a budget of RP 405 trillion for handling COVID-19. Of the total budget prepared, only a small portion is then allocated for direct assistance to the people. The budget allocation consists of RP 75 trillion for the health sector, RP 110 trillion for social assistance and the largest is for economic stimulus for large companies, which is RP 220.1 trillion.

Through the Program Keluarga Harapan (Family Hope Program- PKH), RP 200 thousand will be used to help 10 million families, up from the previous 9.2 million families (KPM). But keep in mind that the increase is not because the government is trying to help the people in the middle of a pandemic. There is also a nine-basic-necessity card which is worth RP 200 per month for 20 million families on condition that it is registered as a poor family. Likewise, electricity tariff incentives for 450 volts and 900 volts (50 percent tariff) for three months. In addition there is also a pre-work card program worth RP 20 trillion.

However, the various programs have not been implemented up to now, and the fastest is April 20 after the massive economic impact. The social assistance program is very small compared to the budget that is actually available such as the budget for economic stimulus targeting large companies, as well as financial institutions. There is nothing even with infrastructure projects including mega capital development projects of the new capital which are still continuing to be built with a total budget of Rp 466 trillion. Even the pre-employment card program is nothing more than giving away free applications to large companies and employers whose direct benefits for the people are very small in the midst of an outbreak. This proves that the Joko Widodo administration prioritizes the rescue of large corporate businesses rather than the lives and lives of the Indonesian people.

For this reason, the campaign to restore health as a right of the people must go hand in hand with the campaign to protect the people, including guaranteeing social and economic rights. We from ILPS Indonesia join the Global Campaign for People’s Solidarity and demand the Indonesian governement to:

1. Provide guarantees for health, safety at work, education and life insurance for workers and the people!
2. Provide free health facilities and services to rural areas, villages, urban poor areas, factories, campuses, and all areas where the spread of the COVID-19 virus has been found, by providing and distributing free masks, hand sanitizers, vitamins, and equipment. other for the people!
3. Provide guaranteed availability of nutritious food for the people at low prices!
4. Leave and provide guarantees for wages and labor rights still to be paid!
5. Give incentives and benefits to doctors, nurses and other medical personnel in combating the spread of the corona virus!

Jakarta, 15 April 2020

Hormat Kami,
ILPS Chapter Indonesia

Rudi HB Daman

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