Postponing the debate on Omnibus Law: House to focus on Covid-19

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DPR will help with the mitigation of the Corona pandemic in terms of budgeting, legislation, and monitoring. (Photo: IO/Rayi Gigih)

 IO, Jakarta – The National parliament (DPR) will continue to hold its Opening Plenary Meeting for the Third Session on Monday (30/03/2020), amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaker of DPR Puan Maharani announced that Parliament will be focusing this Session on the mitigation of the Corona or COVID-19 pandemic. “In this time of emergency, DPR will direct all of its energies towards the effort to mitigate the corona plague. If we do not hold a Plenary Meeting, DPR’s status will still be on a recess, and we cannot function optimally,” said Puan in her written statement on Monday (30/03/2020). 

Puan said that DPR will help with the mitigation of the Corona pandemic in terms of budgeting, legislation, and monitoring. For one, they would help the Government to adjust State Budget to match current conditions. She said that the assumptions planned in current State Budget do not cover this unexpected situation. Therefore, the Budget needs various adjustments, whether relating to income, expenditure, or focus of funding. The latter will be focused on the mitigation of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully, their combined efforts can reduce the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s socio-economic condition. 

Earlier, the Chairman of the DPR’s Legislative Committee, Supratman Andi Agtas, said that the Draft Job Opportunity Creation Omnibus Law will be discussed in the next Session, which will start at the end of March. However, Deputy Speaker of the DPR Sufmi Dasco Ahmad suggested that it is entirely possible for discussions of the Draft Law to be delayed in view of the continued spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We do not deny that it’s possible for discussions of the Draft Law to be delayed for the common good and to avoid further spreading of the Corona virus,” he said recently. “The delay is very much reasonable, as thorough discussion of the Omnibus Law need to involve various elements of society. In other words, it would require many people to meet and contact directly. It is vulnerable to the spread of virus and other undesirable consequences.” 

Separately, Chairwoman of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia – “YLBHI”) Asfinawati requests DPR to cancel discussing the Job Opportunity Creation Omnibus Draft Law on the Opening Day of its Plenary Meeting on Monday (30/03/2020). She hopes that DPR will focus on its function to monitor the Government in the effort to mitigate and control Covid-19. DPR should ensure that the State discharge its responsibility towards the people’s rights in facing the Corona virus pandemic, “…such as providing food, water, sanitation, and financial aid for the poor,” she said. 

Asfinawati further stated that the Government must protect the people so that their vulnerability towards the Corona pandemic does not increase. DPR must monitor Government policies that might potentially cause the people to become more vulnerable, “including guaranteeing Workplace Health, Safety, and Environment for workers and stopping enforced demolition in agrarian conflicts, which further make citizens more vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said. 

Asfinawati further urges the DPR to immediately discuss the reallocation of budget items in the State Budget towards Covid-19 mitigation and control. There are many State Budget items that can be deducted temporarily and relocated to health and safety programs for the people in the pandemic. “DPR should join the Government in deducting and reallocating State Budget items to ensure the people’s safety and health, including deducting wages and benefits of DPR members and members of State-Owned Company Boards of Directors in order to provide PPE for medical workers and the poor,” she said. “DPR should also ensure that the Government’s information to the public concerning Covid-19 is accurate, timely, non-discriminative, and consistent with the principles of human rights.” (Dan)