Living in a COVID-19 Endemic World

Indonesia’s Deputy Minister for Finance, Suahasil Nazara, says after 1.5 years of the global pandemic, the Country must consider ways to live and coexist with COVID-19 as an endemic reality.

“The pandemic has changed us all over the past 1.5 years. This is an established pattern. Maybe we must begin to think how to live with an endemic disease and that this virus will remain with us,” said Nazara speaking at the World Congress of the Institute of Economic Affairs on Saturday, 03 July 2021.

Suahasil Nazara, Deputy Minister of Finance

He explained that a disease or infection becomes endemic when it becomes commonplace in any specific geographic region. Endemic diseases can go on for years, such as chickenpox or malaria.

Quoted by CNN Indonesia, Nazara reasoned that when COVID-19 is eventually declared endemic, this will result in a range of questions waiting to be resolved. For instance, questions would be addressed concerning developing the infrastructure, connectivity, and fiscal flexibility to help guarantee the Nation’s financial resilience.

Continuing, Nazara asked: “What will happen if this virus becomes a permanent fixture in our society? What changes will result in our fiscal policies? Must fiscal flexibility then be exercised at every moment?”

The Deputy Finance Minister insists that a high degree of fiscal flexibility will be needed in the short term. At the same time, fiscal discipline must be safeguarded for the mid-term and long-term to ensure the Country’s financial obligations are met.

The Deputy Minister estimates the 2021 State Budget (APBN) the deficit will be around 5.7% of the Gross Domestic Product caused by dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget deficit is targeted to return to a level below 3% within three years.

Nazara said in addition to handling Indonesia’s financial obligations, the Country must also consider the national vaccination campaign. He feels that the success of nationwide vaccination programs will largely determine Indonesia’s success in the financial sector.

Certain that sufficient dosages of vaccine will eventually be made available to inoculate the entire Nation, Nazara asked when Indonesia can expect the comprehensive immunization program will be completed? Adding: “The faster vaccines are made available for everyone, the quicker will be the (economic) recovery.

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