Jokowi threatens Cabinet with reshuffle

THE JAKARTA POST/ANN – Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said he is prepared to take “extraordinary steps”, including a Cabinet reshuffle, if his ministers fail to take the COVID-19 crisis seriously, in a video uploaded to the Presidential Secretariat’s official YouTube channel last Sunday.

In the video, apparently shot during a Cabinet meeting on June 18, the President lambasted the ministers for taking the situation too lightly.

“The atmosphere in the last three months and in the next three months should be one of crisis,” he said. “We should not consider (this situation) to be normal. That is very dangerous. And I still see that many of us see this as normal.”

He urged ministries to cut through the red tape and accelerate their spending to stimulate the economy.

“Once again, do not act as if everything is normal,” he said. “If you need to issue a ministerial regulation (to accelerate spending), issue it. If you need a presidential regulation, I will issue it.”

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo attends the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, held over video conference from the presidential palace in Bogor, West Java. PHOTO: AFP

Jokowi cited the state budget for the health sector as an example of the slow spending. “We have budgeted USD5.28 billion but only 1.5 per cent has been disbursed,” he said. “All the money that’s supposed to be for the people is stuck there.”

He also called on the Health Ministry to immediately pay out the financial incentives promised to health workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak. He closed the uncharacteristically fiery address by saying he was prepared to take extraordinary political and governmental steps to address the current crisis.

“I will take any steps necessary, including extraordinary ones, for our 267 million people,” he said. “(I might) disband agencies. (I might) reshuffle (the Cabinet). I have considered many options.”

The June 18 meeting was the first Cabinet meeting held face-to-face since the COVID-19 outbreak in the country began. The meeting was closed to the public and the press.

According to the government’s official count, Indonesia has 54,010 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 2,754 deaths as of last Sunday.