ADB to provide Indonesia with $2.7b in loans to support human capital, infrastructure development

first_imgThe Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide around US$2.7 billion in loans this year to support Indonesia’s human capital, infrastructure and green energy development.ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa said the bank planned to provide Indonesia with more loans this year than the $1.7 billion it provided in 2019. The bank plans to provide Indonesia with $500 million for a competitiveness enhancement program and another $500 million for a financial inclusion program this year.“This is an increase of $1 billion but it is still a forecast amount,” Asakawa said during a news conference in Jakarta on Tuesday after a meeting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. “We want to expand ADB’s support for human capital development and infrastructure connectivity.” After meeting with Jokowi, Asakawa said the bank would focus on providing support in a range of areas including clean energy, higher education and skills development as well as innovative green and blue financing.The ADB has also committed to funding several projects in South Sulawesi including the Mamminasata toll-road project, low-cost apartment developments and a clean water program. The bank plans to finance priority projects of the Indonesian government and the private sector, Asakawa said. In his inaugural speech at the beginning of his second term, Jokowi announced that his administration would prioritize human capital and infrastructure development. The administration’s goal is to set Indonesia on the path to becoming one of the world’s five largest economies by 2045, with a near zero percent poverty rate and an average per person monthly income of Rp 27 million.Read also: Jokowi lays out vision for human capital development in state of nation address “We advise [Indonesia] to create a business and investment environment through pro-growth economic and fiscal policy,” said Asakawa. “It is important to combat [the negative effects] of the trade war between the US and China as well as the coronavirus.”Two Indonesians have tested positive for COVID-19, while the government has launched a Rp 10 trillion fiscal stimulus package to support the tourism industry and boost consumer spending to counter the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. Worldwide, more than 90,000 people have been infected with the virus and more than 3,000 have died.  Read also: Indonesia announces $742m stimulus to shield economy from virus Asakawa added that the bank’s proposed Country Partnership Strategy for Indonesia for 2020-2024 would support the government’s development priorities and seek to catalyze private sector financing, promote innovation and new technologies.Between 1966 and 2018, the ADB committed $36.68 billion in sovereign and nonsovereign loans, equity investments and guarantees. Furthermore, the ADB provided $460.5 million in technical assistance and $449.98 million in grants to Indonesia.Separately, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto said the bank had conveyed its commitment to supporting Indonesia in several sectors including in education and investment acceleration.“The ADB will provide policy support for several public policies as well as boost activities related to education and infrastructure,” Airlangga said at the State Palace.Airlangga said the government had earned the ADB’s support by working to transform its economy through the omnibus bills on job creation and taxation. “The ADB will provide some sort of training program and financing during the [bills’] implementation.”The government submitted the controversial omnibus bill on job creation to the House of Representatives on Feb. 12 and aims for deliberations to be concluded within 100 days. The bill is expected to improve ease of doing business in Indonesia and attract investment, thereby increasing job opportunities and boosting economic growth in Southeast Asia’s largest economy, which cooled to its lowest level in four years at 5.02 percent in 2019.Airlangga told The Jakarta Post in a recent interview that the omnibus bill on job creation could help the government inch closer to its 6 percent economic growth target by attracting Rp 1,200 trillion (US$87 billion) in projected investment within a year, creating 3 million new jobs.Topics :last_img read more

Government expedites imports of staple needs to stabilize prices

first_imgThe government is expediting imports of buffalo meat, garlic and sugar to stabilize prices in preparation for a surge in demand during this year’s Ramadan festivities that will start in late April amid the coronavirus outbreak, officials say.Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said on Friday the ministry had received a horticulture products import recommendation (RPIH) to import 90,000 tons of garlic, and would issue the import license for garlic in a matter of days.The decision came following a meeting with Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto and other related ministries and agencies in Jakarta. “At the meeting we decided to expedite staple product imports. We will improve interagency coordination [to speed up the process]”, he said.The decision was made in response to rising prices of staple ingredients. According to the Information Center for Strategic Food Prices (PIHPS), the price of garlic currently stands at Rp 46,000 (US$3.61) per kilogram, almost double the usual Rp 25,000 to Rp 30,000 per kg. Meanwhile, the local sugar price stood at Rp 16,000 per kg, above the usual Rp 12,000 to Rp 14,000.Rising garlic prices pushed up the volatile food inflation rate to 6.68 percent in February and the inflation rate to 2.98 percent from 2.68 percent in January, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS).Indonesia produces 85,000 tons of garlic annually, which equates to only 10 percent of domestic demand. As such, the country has long relied on garlic imports from China, the world’s leading garlic producer. Read also: Garlic stock will only suffice until April without Chinese importsLast year, Indonesia imported around 465,000 tons of garlic with an import value of nearly US$530 million, BPS data shows. In 2018, Indonesia imported 582,994 tons of garlic, of which 580,845 tons came from China.Talk in the market suggests the garlic price surge has been caused by diminishing supplies from China due to the coronavirus outbreak and the severe drought that hit Indonesia in 2019. However, the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) has dismissed these claims, arguing that the cause of the scarcity was slow import realization, which had been a problem before the virus outbreak.Read also: Rising garlic price cannot be blamed on coronavirus: Business watchdogFood Resilience Agency (BKP) head Agung Hendriadi previously said that the government was seeking to import garlic from countries other than China, as the COVID-19 outbreak had pummeled the country’s trade and economic activity.The pneumonia-like illness has infected more than 106,000 people and killed more than 3,600 around the world.Agung warned that Indonesia’s garlic stocks had fallen to 80,000 tons as of Feb. 27. With the country consuming 46,000 tons of garlic per month on average, current stocks will suffice until only April.The 90,000 ton import recommendation for garlic is higher than the previous import permit letters issued by the ministry for 62,000 tons, but still below the 103,000 tons recommended by the Agriculture Ministry.Besides garlic, imports of buffalo meat and sugar are also to be expedited, the State Logistics Agency’s (Bulog) business and industrial development director Bachtiar said.“We are planning to import around 25,000 tons of buffalo meat, which will enter the market in April,” he said.Bachtiar claimed that according to Bulog’s records, 1,000 tons of meat remained in stock, which would be enough to supply the market until the imported meat arrived.Bulog’s also received an import quota of 29,750 tons for raw sugar, as local supplies of white crystallized sugar have begun to dwindle.The severe drought of 2019 caused delays to the sugar cane milling period, which has disrupted market supplies.“We also received an import quota for 29,750 tons of raw sugar, and will announce the tender for sugar import immediately,” Bachtiar said. The sugar will be imported from neighboring countries such as Australia, India and Thailand, he added.In total, the government plans to import more than 400,000 tons of raw sugar to meet local demand, Agus said.Read also: Indonesia may import extra 130,000 tons of sugar from India to meet demandcenter_img The price of sugar in traditional markets had shot up to Rp 15,800 per kg as of Friday according to the PIHPS, exceeding the consumer reference price of Rp 12,500 stipulated under Trade Ministerial Regulation No.7/2020 on reference prices.While the price of sugar continues to rise, the prices of garlic and beef have decreased slightly recently from the high levels seen in February.The price of garlic stood at Rp 45,700 per kg as of Friday after doubling to Rp 50,450 per kg from normal levels in February. The price of beef rose to Rp 117,800 per kg from Rp 118,100 in February, compared with normal levels of below Rp 110,000 per kg. (mpr/eyc)Topics :last_img read more

Lebanon records first novel coronavirus death: Health ministry

first_imgA Lebanese man died Tuesday from the novel coronavirus, a health ministry official said, marking the country’s first recorded death from an epidemic that has infected 41 people nationwide. The 56-year-old had been receiving treatment at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri state hospital, the ministry official told AFP, adding that he had recently returned from Egypt, where coronavirus infections have also been detected.Lebanon, already hit by economic collapse and anti-government protests, is now grappling with an outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 virus — its latest in a long list of crises. Lebanon has said it would deny entry to non-resident foreigners arriving from China, South Korea, Iran and Italy, which are among the hardest hit by the epidemic.But domestic concern is still high amid fears that Lebanon is not equipped to face a mass outbreak. With a grinding liquidity crunch and dwindling foreign reserves, Lebanon has struggled to secure the dollars needed for medical imports even before coronavirus arrived. Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced on Saturday that the country would suspend payment on Eurobonds.  Health Minister Hamad Hassan said last week that the country has moved beyond the phase of “containment” and was bracing for a more serious outbreak.Schools, universities, cafes, pubs and other public places have since been ordered shut over fears of the virus.Sport tournaments have been postponed and cultural events cancelled. According to the health minister, the origins of Lebanon’s cases have mostly been traced to other countries.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Forced bank mergers last resort in safeguarding Indonesia’s financial sector: OJK

first_imgRead also: Small banks could be forced to merge under new regulation, OJK says“If it’s only one or two institutions and they do not cause negative sentiment in the financial sector, of course, we can still handle this with business-as-usual ways,” he added.Article 23 of the Government Regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) No. 1/2020 states that the OJK has the authority to “give written orders to financial service institutions to conduct merger, consolidation, acquisition, integration and/or conversion processes”.Failure to follow the instruction of the OJK by a corporation could lead to imprisonment and a fine of at least Rp 1 trillion (US$61.4 million). The sanctions are stricter compared with only administrative ones regulated in an OJK regulation in 2019. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo signed the Perppu, which activates crisis protocols and provides leeway for his administration to afford the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, among other things, as the disease has disrupted business activity and hit the country’s vulnerable population.Wimboh stressed that other measures, such as stake sales and purchases and allowing Bank Indonesia (BI) to act as the lender of last resort, would be taken first before resorting to the merger scenario.Read also: Explainer: BI to throw lifeline to Indonesia’s economy to fight COVID-19Acting as the lender of last resort means that the central bank offers loans to banks and other financial institutions that are experiencing financial difficulties or are considered highly risky and near collapse.Previously, experts and economists expressed confidence that forced mergers would only be used as a last resort. Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef) deputy director Eko Listiyanto said there were other methods for rescuing nonperforming banks, such as management restructuring.“In a worst-case scenario where banks fail, the OJK could merge the banks in accordance with the new regulation,” Eko said. Topics : A regulation to force small and struggling banks to consolidate would be the last resort in efforts to safeguard Indonesia’s financial industry amid heightening economic risks, according to Financial Services Authority (OJK) chairman Wimboh Santoso.He said during a teleconferenced meeting with House of Representatives Commission XI overseeing financial affairs on Tuesday that the “preemptive measure” was aimed at preventing the financial sector situation from worsening and to safeguard public confidence during times of crisis.“This is just in case [we need it]. It doesn’t mean that we have to do it,” Wimboh said, adding that the mechanism would only come into play if there was a foreseeable possibility of widespread collapse among Indonesia’s financial institutions.last_img read more

Concerns rise over importing COVID-19 as hundreds of Indonesian crewmen come home

first_imgMore than 1,000 crewmen had arrived back in the country by Wednesday. The foreign ministry confirmed that 963 crewmen had been repatriated by April 2 on commercial and charter flights funded by their cruise operators.These included more than 200 Indonesian crewmen of the MSC Fantasia crew who arrived over the weekend in Denpasar, Bali, flying from Lisbon on Air Europa flight AE672 after disembarking in Portugal, where the cruise ship carrying 1,338 passengers had made port.On the last day of March, 316 Indonesian crewmen of the MSC Splendida arrived by plane in Denpasar from Genoa, Italy, considered the epicenter of the European pandemic.Read also: Cruise ship responsible for jump in Australia coronavirus cases The ministry’s data shows that an estimated 12,748 Indonesians work as crew members aboard 89 cruise ships around the world operated by 10 major cruise operators.The crewmen’s repatriation has given rise to worries of potential imported cases, as international cruise liners like Diamond Princess, World Dream, Westerdam and Zaandam emerged as “hot spots” of COVID-19 infectionThe International Rescue Committee (IRC) reported that COVID-19 transmission occurred four times faster aboard Diamond Princess than during the peak of the outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected.As many as 712 out of the more than 3,700 passengers and crew aboard Diamond Princess contracted the virus during its two-month quarantine in Yokohama, Japan.Despite concerns over compounding the outbreak in Indonesia, the foreign ministry said the government could not lawfully prevent its citizens from returning to the country, citing the 2011 Immigration Law. It added, however, that authorities could ramp up efforts to detect the disease upon their arrival.All repatriated citizens are required to undergo all necessary health protocols at their port of entry, where health officials will take their body temperature, check them for symptoms and test them for the virus using rapid testing kits.Returnees who tested positive for the virus are quarantined at their port of entry, while those who tested negative are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days at home.“We will facilitate the needs of Indonesian citizens who have decided to come home, but they must obey the protocol so they won’t spread the virus,” said the Foreign Ministry’s overseas citizen protection director, Judha Nugraha.Read also: COVID-19: Govt to allocate Rp 100 billion to protect Indonesians abroadLawmakers, however, expressed their doubt over current measures.Effendy Simbolon of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) pointed out the often lax implementation of health protocols at Indonesian ports.“There is an inconsistency in the protocol as imposed on [Indonesians] and the government’s [effort]. It is very relaxed,” he said on Tuesday at a working meeting between House Commission I on foreign affairs and the ministry.“The protocol as imposed on arrivals [aboard] international airlines, for instance, is extremely loose,” he noted.The commission has asked the government to impose more stringent screening at all ports of entry in the country.Topics : Ninety-two Indonesian crewmen aboard a number of international cruise liners had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning, the Foreign Ministry indicated on a map of all affected Indonesians abroad on its official Twitter account.The tweeted map also noted that all were “stable”.Hi #Diplomates, attached is the Global #COVID19 Update and Indonesian Citizen Protection as of 08/04; 08.00 Western Indonesian Time.The map shows active COVID-19 Cases of Indonesian Citizen Abroad.#IndonesianWay pic.twitter.com/oiT17RiHj5— MoFA Indonesia (@Kemlu_RI) April 8, 2020Even so, the government still allowed hundreds of other crewmen to return to the country, as many cruise operators had halted their operations in response to the pandemic. The crewmen’s return has raised concerns over whether this could worsen the disease’s spread across the archipelago.last_img read more

Back to training, Bayern’s Coman hopes to complete season

first_img“We’re doing technical work, at a safe distance from each other. It’s a bit like the end of the close season when you resume training individually.”Despite the resumption of training the German Football League (DFL) made it clear last week it was not known if or when the season would resume.The season has been suspended until at least April 30 with the DFL due to meet next Friday to decide the next step.Coman said he hoped all the effort the players had put in would not go to waste.”We work, we work, and I hope we can finish the season otherwise all that work will have been for nothing,” he said.Bayern had a four-point lead with nine matches remaining when the season was halted. Topics : Bundesliga clubs returned to training earlier this week after almost a month off due to the COVID-19 outbreak and while the players are still being kept at a safe distance from each other Bayern Munich forward Kingsley Coman is just happy to be back.Squads have been split into small groups or even pairs under strict measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, which has infected over 110,000 and killed more than 2,000 people in Germany.”We had not touched a ball on a football pitch for almost a month and even if we’re split in small groups it’s a pleasure to play again and step onto a field that has goals,” the France international told Eurosport on Fridaylast_img read more

COVID-19: Confusion in Jakarta on first workday under partial lockdown

first_imgThe first work day of the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) period in Jakarta was marked by confusion and chaos, with people unsure of the government’s regulations on public transportation.Commuter train stations in Greater Jakarta were packed with people on Monday morning after the Jakarta administration enforced restrictions on passenger numbers on public transportation.Many offices still required workers to come in for work despite the PSBB requirement that all nonessential workplaces be closed and implement work-from-home policies.Read also: Residents told to stay at home for 2 weeks as Jakarta goes into partial lockdown Commuter line operator PT Kereta Commuter Indonesia (KCI) reported that the buildup of passengers occurred mainly in two of Jakarta’s satellite cities, Depok and Bogor in West Java, which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak but have yet to impose PSBB status.More than 4,000 KCI service and security officers, assisted by Marine Corps personnel, were deployed to 80 stations to provide commuters with information on the passenger restrictions, PT KCI said.PT KCI also operated additional trains, adding five extra train schedules at Bogor, Bojonggede and Manggarai stations and arranged queues to comply with physical distancing guidelines.The railway operator appealed to both regional administrations and businesses to comply with the PSBB status and to help limit people’s mobility.“We hope the PSBB status will be accompanied by control and supervision from the local administrations, especially in controlling the mobility of community members,” KCI external relations manager Adli Hakim said in a media statement on Monday.Adli said he hoped all businesses would adopt work-from-home policies.“Otherwise, they should allow for flexible working hours to account for the limited operational hours and passenger capacity of all modes of public transportation,” he added.Meanwhile, a lack of coordination among ministries has created confusion among users and drivers of app-based ojek (motorcycle taxi) services.On April 9, the Transportation Ministry issued Ministerial Regulation No.18/2020 on transportation controls to slow the spread of COVID-19. Among other things, it allows app-based ojek drivers to serve passengers, so long as they wear masks and gloves, disinfect vehicles before and after use, and do not drive when they do not feel well.Civil groups and politicians were quick to lambast the regulation, signed by acting Transportation Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, as it clashes with Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto’s regulation on PSBB guidelines, meaning enforcement will be challenging.“According to Health Ministerial Regulation No.9/2020 on PSBB guidelines, app-based ojek drivers can only transport goods, not passengers,” said Djoko Setijowarno, a transportation observer from the Indonesia Transportation Society (MTI) on Sunday.Previously, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan request to allow ojek drivers to take passengers was denied by the Health Ministry.Ride-hailing service companies Gojek and Grab disabled their ojek services in Jakarta on Friday, the first day of PSBB implementation in the capital. However, ojek services resumed on Monday. Read also: COVID-19: Jakarta’s partial lockdown deals a heavy blow to ‘ojek’ drivers Experts have criticized the government for not implementing PSBB status across the entirety of Greater Jakarta, pointing out that Jakarta’s satellite cities were part of the same urban area.“The satellite cities are home to people who work in Jakarta and are inseparable from the urban economy. The coronavirus does not respect jurisdictional boundaries,” MTI secretary-general Harya S. Dillon told The Jakarta Post on Monday.Experts have argued that PSBB status should be implemented across the entirety of Greater Jakarta.Five areas in West Java, namely the cities of Depok, Bekasi and Bogor as well as Bekasi and Bogor regencies received approval Saturday to implement PSBB status from Wednesday.On Sunday, the Health Ministry approved the implementation of PSBB status for Tangerang and South Tangerang cities and Tangerang regency in Banten, meaning all of Jakarta’s satellite areas will be covered. The PSBB status in Tangerang regions will begin Saturday.West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said his administration was reviewing a PSBB request for Greater Bandung, which includes Bandung and Cimahi cities, as well as Bandung, West Bandung, and Sumedang regencies.Ridwan has requested regency and city administrations to carry out large-scale inspections of factories and conduct studies to determine which industries should be given strategic status.“If no positive cases are found, regents and mayors may allow such industries to operate with physical distancing and health protocols in place,” Ridwan said.Jakarta Legal Aid Institute director Asfinawati said the buildup of commuters on Monday had exposed the economic inequality in Jakarta, where housing remains insufficient, forcing many who work in the city center to live on the outskirts.“The [government’s] programs must be calculated by considering people’s needs. People must be provided with social aid immediately, so that the physical distancing policy can actually be implemented,” Asfinawati said.The central government has prepared several social aid programs for low-income citizens with assistance provided through, among other programs, the Family Hope Program (PKH), basic food cards, preemployment cards, village fund assistance and staple food distribution.Topics :last_img read more

Trump blames China’s virus response on desire to see him lose

first_imgDonald Trump blamed China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak on a desire to see him lose in November, as the US president intensified efforts to fault Beijing for his reelection challenges.Trump — speaking in an Oval Office interview with Reuters published Wednesday — didn’t provide evidence to support the claim that China would deliberately mishandle an outbreak that has killed more than 4,600 of its citizens. The president said that he was considering various ways to punish the Chinese government, which he has blamed for allowing the virus to spread across the world.“China will do anything they can to have me lose this race,” Trump said in the interview. He didn’t say what punitive actions he might take, but added: “There are many things I can do.” Trump also said during the interview that the US trade deal with China had been “upset very badly” by the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis. The slowdown has made it more difficult for China to meet purchasing pledges included in a “phase one” trade pact reached between the two sides in January.Officials in Washington and Beijing have been firing charges at each other for weeks as the US became one of the countries hardest-hit by a disease first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The dispute has complicated global efforts to mount a coordinated response to the virus, with US officials emphasizing Chinese responsibility for failing to stop its spread.Republicans have been ratcheting up efforts to paint China as the villain, as Trump faces increased criticism of his handling of a crisis that has pushed the US economy toward recession. Some 55 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Wednesday, while other surveys show the president trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden nationally and in key swing states.China helped escalate the blame game with the US in March when a foreign ministry spokesman shared speculation on social media that American military personnel introduced the virus to Wuhan. While Trump has held off from the calling the pathogen that causes Covid-19 the “Chinese virus,” his campaign sent out a letter earlier this month accusing the country of “lying” about the outbreak.Earlier Wednesday, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that China posed a threat to the world by hiding information about the origin of the coronavirus. The comments came after state broadcaster China Central Television’s top evening news program questioned the transparency and accuracy of US data on Covid-19 infections.“The Chinese Communist Party now has a responsibility to tell the world how this pandemic got out of China and all across the world, causing such global economic devastation,” Pompeo told Fox News in an interview in which he repeatedly criticized Beijing. “America needs to hold them accountable.”Topics :last_img read more

Forced exorcisms touted as ‘cure’ for LGBT Indonesians

first_imgForced exorcism is a common story for gay and transgender people in the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation, where a conservative shift has seen the community increasingly targeted in recent years.Homosexuality is legal everywhere in Indonesia except conservative Aceh province which adheres to strict Islamic laws. But it is still widely believed that being gay or transgender is the result of a person being possessed by evil spirits — and that these can be expelled by religious ceremony and prayer.Now, conservative Islamic lawmakers have tabled a so-called “Family Resilience” bill, which critics decry as sexist and anti-LGBT. Gay and transgender people would be forced to undergo “rehabilitation” — an umbrella term likely to include exorcisms and other “conversion treatments” — to purge what bill advocates say is a sexual deviancy.’Expel evil spirits’Although now a Muslim-majority nation, traditional tribal animist and shamanist beliefs have been incorporated into the cultural and religious identity across the Southeast Asian archipelago, which is home to more than 260 million. Exorcisms have long been used for everything from tackling mental illness to clearing villages of alleged apparitions. This means the practice will play key role if the new law is passed, warns Usman Hamid, Amnesty International Indonesia’s executive director.”[It’s] the most likely option to be taken by officials in Indonesia when doing ‘rehabilitation'”, he adds.For Aris Fatoni, who performs exorcisms to rid patients of myriad medical and personal problems, mandatory conversion therapy will bring a business boom. He claims he has “cured” around 10 such clients in the past decade.During an exorcism, Fatoni reads from the Koran as he places his hands on clients and then watches for signs he believes suggest evil spirits are being expelled. “It’s usually a strong reaction but that means they’ll be cured quicker,” he explains, adding that he’s witnessed vomiting and screaming in the process. “However, if someone likes being LGBT and they’ve only come here out of curiosity then there’s no reaction. Those cases are harder to fix.”His colleague, Ahmad Sadzali, also boasts of successful conversions.”One guy I treated only did the exorcism twice and he is cured now. He married a woman just one month later,” he recalls. Six clinics in Jakarta told AFP they performed exorcisms that would “cure” LGBT clients, although none openly advertised the treatment.”How long have you been suffering the disease?” one shop owner asks over the telephone, before reminding the caller he cannot treat those with HIV. “God willing, I can help as long as you surrender to Allah.”‘Sinful acts’Surveys in recent years indicate intolerance and radicalism is on the rise, with one 2017 study suggesting more than 80 percent of Indonesians support the country adopting strict Islamic law.Dinda says her mother, who is deeply religious, tricked her into visiting for a family reunion — but when the 34-year-old lesbian arrived, she found a Muslim cleric there who performed an exorcism against her will.  “My mom believed I was possessed by ghosts and that if I didn’t have an exorcism then the evil spirits would stay with me,” recalls Dinda, who asked that her real name not be used.Her sexuality remains the same but she no longer trusts her mother. “I get shivers every time my mum calls me. And I see the exorcist in my dreams. It left me very scared,” she reveals. In Aceh, same-sex relations can result in a public whipping under local Islamic law and in 2018 police there rounded up a group of transwomen and publicly humiliated them by cutting their hair and forcing them to dress in male clothes.The same year, authorities in West Sumatra’s Padang city ordered LGBT residents to have treatment to stop their “sinful acts” following mass demonstrations.But there is still a vocal minority pushing back against draconian changes to legislation.  Last year, lawmakers tried to push through a criminal law overhaul that would have made pre-marital sex a criminal offence, but the bid was shelved after a sharp backlash.Similarly, proposals in the new bill are being fought by rights campaigners.”Conversion therapy, such as exorcisms, amount to violence against LGBT people,” said Budi Wahyuni, a former commissioner at the Indonesian women’s commission.Andin remains unconvinced things will get better. Her family persists in trying to cure her — most recently sacrificing a goat to do so.  She says: “Twenty years later, they still want me to be different.”Topics : Andin is haunted by memories of being forced into an exorcism to “save” her from being transgender — a ritual that could become mandatory for Indonesia’s LGBT community if a controversial new law is passed.For two decades she has endured harassment and abuse as her family desperately tried to “cure” her. Treatments ranged from being bombarded with Koranic verses while trapped in a locked room for days, to being doused with freezing water by an imam promising to purge the “gender disease”. But it is the exorcism that breaks her heart.     She was taken against her will to a strange religious guru near her hometown of Medan, North Sumatra. He showed her a burial shroud commonly used to cover the dead and prayed over her.He then gave a stark choice: relinquish life as a woman, or go to hell. “Nothing changed after the exorcism. I’m still LGBT, but my family didn’t give up easily,” says Andin, 31, who asked that her real name not be used. “It’s traumatizing — the horror of that memory stays in my head.”last_img read more

France’s ‘Generation COVID’ faces bleak future with jobs scarce

first_img“When I saw the coronavirus numbers and the borders closed, I wondered ‘will a hotel need me next year?’.”France was already one of the worst places in Europe to be a young job-seeker because of a rigid labor market and resulting shortage of long-term contracts. When the coronavirus hit, finding employment, even as an apprentice, became tougher.Fillon is not alone. Some 800,000 youngsters in France will enter the labor market this summer, just as the euro zone’s second largest economy is forecast to shrink by 11 percent.France has struggled to provide enough long-term jobs for its young. The youth unemployment rate sat above 20% in the fourth quarter of 2019, the fourth highest in Europe behind Greece, Spain, and Italy, according to the OECD. Topics : Onerous labor laws mean businesses typically prefer to give youngsters short-term contracts that offer scant job security.But President Emmanuel Macron has pushed through reforms to liberalize France’s highly regulated job market and incentivize the hiring of apprentices.Unemployment was falling before the crisis – even if it was still roughly double the rate in Britain and Germany – and long-term contracts were on the rise. So too apprenticeships, up 17% year-on-year in 2019.”This crisis has shown the fragility (of the reform gains),” said Mathieu Plane, an economist at the publicly funded French Economic Observatory (OFCE).”Worst possible time”In France, young employees and job-seekers are suffering a double hit, Plane said. They were typically the first to be jettisoned by companies in times of recession and have an outsized presence in the ailing tourism and hospitality sectors.The government might have to think about state-subsidized jobs for 15 to 24-year-olds if hiring in the private sector remained low for several years, he added.Armelle Bahrouni, 23, quit her Paris bar job in February, a month before France went into lockdown, because she wanted to find a hospitality role with a view to one day running a bar.Four months later, bars and restaurants in Paris can only offer outdoor seating. Many remain closed and Bahrouni is out of work.”The longest time I’ve done nothing with my life before this was two months. And even then I did temping jobs,” Bahrouni said.Macron’s government will in the days ahead hold talks with trade unions and employer groups over how to create jobs for youngsters during the depression.The need is pressing. The labor ministry anticipates that as many as 320,000 young people will join queues at job-seeker centers. Youth unemployment may hit 30%, it forecasts.”I entered the job market at the worst possible time,” said 23-year-old Louis Lhomme, who this summer received a master’s in urban planning from Paris’ Sciences Po, which for more than a century has been educating France’s decision-makers.Lhomme said he had opted for enrolling in a second master’s degree rather than settling for an imperfect job – an option few can afford.”That will shield me from the worst of the crisis.”center_img In September, Eugenie Fillon should begin a two-year master’s degree in luxury hotel management that combines academic studies with a salaried apprenticeship. The problem: during the worst economic downturn in decades, hotels in France aren’t hiring.If the 22-year-old fails to secure a placement, not only will she be deprived of a starting income and on-the-job experience. She will also be on the hook for fees worth 18,000 euros.”Normally there are job offers out there. But there have barely been any since the crisis struck,” Fillon said, as she scoured online job ads on a park bench in Nantes, in the west of the country.last_img read more