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Newsletter May 2020 | What has CIPS achieved since the Covid-19 outbreak?

Dear Readers,

Tomorrow, CIPS will take a week-long break over the Eid ul Fitr fest at the end of Ramadan. Usually I write to you about Indonesia but let me use this last day of work to share what CIPS has done since we started working from home on 17 March.

You might have visited our website recently and seen it’s all about Covid-19. Indeed, this reflects our latest activities! Ever since we started working remotely, CIPS has published 6 policy papers with almost 3 thousand views and downloads so far. Our 7 webinars were attended by 720 people, a third coming from government agencies. And our exclusive Covid-19 briefings shared updates and policy analysis with partners in Indonesia and all over the world.

The webinars were recorded and I am sharing the links below. They were attended by high-ranking representatives from the public and private sectors. Some also formally endorsed the contributions made by CIPS. Just as I was writing to you, a message came in from the Assistant to the Special Strategic Advisor of the President of Indonesia. His request for cooperating with CIPS will allow us to share our analysis with the advisor and the President. It is, of course, another breakthrough for us!

The policy papers covered domestic food subsidies, digital consumer rights, education policies and food security issues during the crisis. Not to mention our paper on investment policies recommended for the recovery after the crisis.

Weekly COVID-19 briefings shared insights on the effects of COVID-19 on food security in Indonesia, economic stimulus programs and how they are being financed, problems associated with the reliance on state-owned enterprises, the impact of the crisis on migrant workers, women, farmers and disabled people, government policies in the education sector, and challenges posed by Indonesia’s restrictive labor markets.

On top of this, we had online meetings with high-ranking officials, including the Minister of Agriculture and the Head of the National Disaster Management Agency. We reported our policy recommendations to them and to journalists, who mentioned our messages in media articles 150 times per month.

The pandemic is changing the way we do things. In CIPS we decided to go beyond merely switching to online communication and looked deeply into current policy challenges and the government’s response. As a policy think tank, we continue to stay up-to-date and share with you our take on Indonesian policies.

For now, though, the CIPS team will go on our one-week break as Indonesians celebrate the end of Ramadan. Stay healthy and wishing Eid Mubarak to those who celebrate, from all of us here at CIPS!

Salam hangat,

Rainer Heufers


How to ensure enough food supplies amid restrictions

On normal days, Indonesians spend half of their income on food. The poor spend even 10% more. Now with the outbreak, we are all the more worried. Restrictions are limiting work in agriculture, which threatens domestic supplies and that is why we suggest diversifying resources. Food trade is the way to supplement existing stocks, but current policies slow down the import process. Our researcher was invited to speak about this in a discussion held by the National Disaster Management Agency. We pointed out how trade barriers should be removed to ensure supplies. Take a closer look at our brief here.

Securing supplies is one thing. Distributing food is another and this became much harder since the movement of people and goods is restricted in many ways. CIPS formulated several suggestions in our recent study on mitigating food supply disruptions. CIPS board member Dr. Patunru got to share them in a discussion with the Minister of Agriculture during a meeting of parliamentarians.

Data is ever more important when everything has gone online

Speaking of food distribution—are you among those who use online food delivery platforms to grab your lunch?

Human interaction has been changed by the pandemic. Besides pretty much everything else, we are now also meeting people online. Data breaches are on the rise and law provisions regarding digital consumer protection have yet to be finalized. CIPS recommends that this becomes an urgent priority. In the process, the government should engage the private sector to co-regulate the digital economy. Initiatives are also necessary to improve consumer literacy and to build the capacities of consumers to know their rights and protect their data.

How to use distance learning to improve school education

Schools have also switched to operating online. Or at least, tried to. The pandemic makes around 45 million students in Indonesia unable to continue schooling, but developments continue to emerge. And here’s where CIPS jumps in with a set of suggestions.

Indonesia should make full use of this opportunity to address the shortcomings of the current school education system. It should basically embark on a large-scale capacity building program to optimize distance learning. Local governments should play a more active role, providing financial and technical assistance. Public-private partnership will also be of major help. Our researcher shared this in a few online events, including one organized by a political party.

Speed up economic recovery post-Covid19

Now is the time to think about how to recover the economy post-Covid-19. Millions will have lost jobs and incomes when various markets gone numb. How to help them get back on their feet?

Our latest research inserts international trade and investments into the answer box! The pandemic’s restrictions have put pressure on global trade, which is predicted to fall by 13-32%. But there’s still much that can be done. The government needs to cut through the jungle of regulations so that investors face less obstacles. The planned Omnibus Law for Job Creation makes a step in the right direction but meets with resistance and still has some internal flaws. In the longer term, effective reforms to widen market opportunities can help people earn jobs and income. Our researchers tell the full story here.


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