Potential Conflict of Interest in COVID-19 Policies

Public Accountability Review
Potential COI in COVID-19 policies
Potential COI in COVID-19 policies

Public Accountability Review (PAR) Potential Conflict of Interest in COVID-19 Policies

Indonesia emerges as the country with the highest number of fatalities due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Southeast Asia region. As of May 12, 2020, the country has capped a total of 14,749 COVID-19 cases with 1,007 people deaths. The mortality rate from the pandemic is around 6.8%. The average number of specimen tests conducted from March 2, 2020 to May 11, 2020 revealed that the government could only test around 1,557 specimens.

This situation is inseparable from the poor response and actions of the Indonesian government in addressing COVID-19 issues. The Indonesian government’s response has been marked by statements belittling COVID-19 and by slow steps of handling, despite a warning from a team of experts from the Faculty of Public Health, Universitas Indonesia (FKM UI) that claimed that the virus had long entered Indonesia since the third week of January 2020. 1

Even more so, the disorganized handling of COVID-19 is made worse by the issue of a conflict of interests of public officials within the President’s circle. For instance, on April 1, 2020, Presidential Special Staff (Stafsus) Andi Taufan Garuda Putra signed a letter addressed to all camats (district heads) throughout Indonesia. The letterhead of his letter was that of the Cabinet Secretariat, and it detailed a collaboration program between the government and PT Amartha Mikro Fintek, named Village Volunteers Fight COVID-19. Andi himself is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PT Amartha Mikro Fintek.

The program is an initiative from the Ministry of Villages, Development of Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration as named in Letter No. 8 of 2020 on COVID-19-Responsive Villages and Village Labor and Cash-Intensive Assertion.

Another Special Staff, Adamas Belva Syah Devara, is also indicated to be problematic. Aside from serving as a special staff, he serves as CEO of Ruangguru. The Skill Academy platform created by his company Ruangguru was appointed directly by the government as a partner for the pre-employment program.

In response to the above issues, Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) compiles a note of criticism on COVID-19 handling and its great potential conflict of interest that may lead to corrupt practices in COVID-19 handling.

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