December 17, 2020, 02.13 AM – After days of public rumbling and grumbling, the Covid-19 vaccine in Indonesia will be free of charge for all citizens.

The announcement came from the Indonesian President who explained that the decision came after talks with the public and recalculating the country’s finances.

Now public attention moves to the question on how to ensure each citizen is inoculated.

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani is eyeing technology to track every Indonesian that has received the first shot in the vaccination program that requires two doses for each person.

The implementation of Indonesia’s Covid-19 vaccination plans is a welcome development in a country struggling to mitigate the novel virus.

Meanwhile, retailers in Jakarta are pleading with the government to take action with crowd control at malls, restaurants, cafes, and modern retail stores instead of limiting operational hours for the year-end holiday.

Although the country’s retailers are supportive of government measures to avoid a second wave of infections, they are also asking for some leniency as profits continue to plunge for Indonesia’s hotel, restaurants, and catering industries.

More details on today’s Indonesia news are highlighted below:

1. President Jokowi Okays Free Covid-19 Vaccination for All Indonesians

President Joko Widodo on Wednesday announced that coronavirus vaccines would be free for all Indonesians.

“After receiving many recommendations from the public and after recalculating state finances, I can say that the Covid-19 vaccine for the public is free. Once again, it’s free. There is no charge at all,” said the President, who is popularly known as Jokowi.

Jokowi instructed the officials in all ministries, government agencies, and regional governments to prioritize the mass inoculation program in the 2021 budget.

He also ordered Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati to prioritize and reallocate another budget for the free coronavirus vaccination program.

Initially, under the plan, 32 million people would receive the subsidy, while about 75 million would pay on their own, she said.

However, the schemes have now been amended following the President’s decision to provide free vaccines for the citizens.


2. Tech Support Eyed for Indonesia’s Covid-19 Vaccination Program

With the announcement of free Covid-19 vaccines in Indonesia, the next issue that arises is rolling out the program in the country of nearly 180 million.

Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said that implementing the program will require technological support to ensure the distribution of the booster is in keeping with the government’s target.

The Indonesian Finance Minister explained that harnessing technology would be useful to track every person who has been inoculated and their whereabouts considering that each person must receive two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“By name, by Customs Identification Number, by number. This digitalization program is massive and real, thus will require necessary infrastructure for us to carry out the transformation.”


3. Indonesian Retailers in Jakarta Ask for Leniency on Operational Hours during Year-End Holiday

The Indonesian Association of Retail Businesses (APRINDO) has asked the government to exclude malls, cafes, restaurants, and modern retail shops when large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in Jakarta is retightened.

APRINDO Chairman Roy N Mandey argues that limiting the operation hours of the four venues in the capital city would be a misguided attempt as it has never become a Covid-19 cluster.

“Modern retailers and malls are not Covid-19 clusters because the number of visitors to these locations has been limited during the transitory PSBB.”

Roy clarified that other than the limited number of visitors, modern retailers, and malls across Indonesia have avoided becoming new virus clusters as they are dedicated to properly implementing health protocols.


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