Indonesia: Unemployment could worsen and enter 2021

Indonesia's current unemployment rate is expected to worsen and continue into 2021, the government announced yesterday (22 June). This comes as the nation prepares itself for further impacts of COVID-19, on its economy.

In a report by The Jakarta Post, Suharso Monoarfa, Minister for National Development Planning, said about 5.5mn people may lose their jobs this year; this could then increase the unemployment rate to between 8.1% to 9.2%, up from 5.28% last year. According to baseline predictions cited by the government, it could be between 7.7% and 9.1%.

As such, up to 12.7mn people are expected to be in unemployment by next year, a jump from 7.05mn recorded in 2019.

Speaking at a parliamentary hearing and quoted in the report, Minister Suharso said: "If the [economic] condition persists throughout the year, we are worried that unemployment will reach 10.7mn to 12.7mn in 2021."

According to data cited, as of May 27, more than 1.79mn had lost their jobs, following shutdowns of non-essential businesses to comply with the government's restrictions. In light of that, 4mn more people are expected to fall below the poverty line this year, bringing the total to 28mn in poverty across the country - about 10.6% of the population, up from 9.2% since September 2019.


Malaysia: Meetings and events with up to 250 people now allowed

As of 17 June 2020, meetings, government and private events, and ceremonies will now be allowed to take place, with a maximum of up to 250 participants.

This was announced by Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob at a press conference, The Sun Daily reported

That said, he added that the number of participants allowed will depend on the size and capacity of the venue, and social distancing of one metre should continue to be observed.

He added: "Participants must also download the MySejahtera app to be used to scan the QR code when registering. Other SOPs are as the usual, including wearing face masks, regularly using hand sanitisers."


 Thailand: Prime Minister launches 'new normal', entertainment venues to reopen

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has launched a 'new normal' initiative, inviting members across sectors to map out the country's post-COVID-19 future.

In an address to the nation on Wednesday (17 June) and cited by Bangkok Post, he announced three parts to the 'new normal' nation-building programme, which he named "Thais together build Thailand".

The first involves "greater direct involvement of all sectors in the government's planning to build a greater Thailand." PM Prayut said: "In the weeks ahead, I will be asking various sectors to conceive and propose a plan on how they can contribute to helping Thailand make giant strides forward. I will ask to hear their vision for their sector and transformative ideas that can change their sector and improve people's lives and incomes."

The second, involves a re-evaluation of the government's work, wherein the government will make it easier for stakeholders to provide their feedback to the highest levels of the government, on both its "efficacy" and areas of improvements.

The third involves proactive working, with PM Prayut pledging to "work more proactively and take a very close interest in a select number of ministry projects that he believes are of the utmost priority for citizens."

Apart from the above, senior officials on Wednesday noted that travel bubbles for general tourism are not expected soon. Instead, the first group of people expected to benefit could be working professionals, and those attending international meetings. 

Reasons cited for this were concerns around the possible implications of tourism, with PM Prayut emphasising the need to prioritise the public's health over tourism.

In a separate report by Bangkok Post, it was announced that entertainment venues in Thailand will soon reopen from July, as part of efforts to loosen COVID-19 restrictions in the country. 

At the same time, the country's emergency decree will remain at least until the end of June, and could be extended by the Centre for COVID-19 Situaton Adminstration should there be further worries by the authorities.

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