More International Routes to Bali to Open in March

Bali is moving ahead with restoring tourism as three more airlines reportedly plan to offer direct flights next month.  Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno said on Monday that Netherlands-based KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Singapore-based low-cost carrier Scoot Tigerair, and Australia’s Jet Star airways will each serve between three and four flights a week to Denpasar, Bali. Singapore Airlines became the first foreign airline to restart direct flights to Bali as it reopened its route to the island on Feb. 3. Up until Feb. 18, 639 passengers had arrived on flights to Bali so far this month, with Singapore Airlines contributing 462 of the total.

“This is good news showing the rise of our economy. Tourism and traffic are recovering,” Sandiaga told reporters during a weekly press briefing.

            The news comes after the government cut the mandatory quarantine for foreign travelers from five to three days in a rule that became effective on Feb. 14. The government has announced plans to do away with the travel quarantine altogether in April, on the assumption that the coronavirus pandemic is kept under control. In an arrangement referred to as “warm-up vacations”, some hotels in Bali are also allowing tourists to spend the quarantine on the premises of the resort rather than being confined to their room.

COVID-19 cases in Indonesia are projected to peak in February and to drop in the following months. On Monday, the daily toll of newly discovered cases fell to 34,418, marking a significant decrease from 64,718 on Feb. 16. Sandiaga revealed that the government was working on more travel bubble arrangements and would open direct flights also to other airports around the country, including those in Manado, North Sulawesi, as well as in Yogyakarta, Surabaya, and Medan.

 In the same briefing, Sandiaga said the government had also been focusing on keeping hotel and homestay rates under control following reports of irregular price hikes ahead of the 2022 MotoGP motorcycle race, which will be staged in Mandalika on the island of Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB). Lastly, the ministry also announced its future tourism plans for Indonesia’s future capital city to be built in East Kalimantan. The concept would revolve around ecotourism with the aim to open new tourism possibilities while also preserving East Kalimantan’s nature and culture.

Feb 22, 2022, The Jakarta Post


Indonesia is on a Major Defense Spending Spree

            Indonesia made major purchase announcements of fighter jets from the United States and French manufacturers this week in the biggest military buying spree in recent years, raising concerns over government spending as the nation rations funds to recover from COVID-19. The procurement plans spotlight a growing arms race in the Indo-Pacific region, following the surprise announcement last year of a security partnership between the US, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

            The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), an agency under the US Department of Defense, announced the possible sale of F-15ID aircraft and related equipment to Indonesia in a deal valued at up to US$13.9 billion on Thursday, just hours after Indonesia and France signed a purchase agreement for the first six of 42 Rafale fighter jets as part of a contract worth of $8.1 billion. Boeing is the principal contractor for the F-15 jets, the Pentagon’s cooperation agency said in a statement. The package would include 36 jets, spare engines, radar, night vision goggles training, and technical support. The DSCA notified the US Congress of the possible sale on Thursday.

            Military analyst Connie Rahakundini Bakrie said that while the purchase of the Rafales from France has been finalized, Prabowo still needs to explain to the public about the high cost of procuring advanced military equipment at this time. She said the ministry owed it to the people to explain how the government would be paying for up to 78 new fighter jets from France and the US. “Prabowo must explain why he chose these jet planes, what the interoperability will be like, as well as what maintenance, repair, and operational components must be built around them, alongside the logistics system. Shopping is easy, and even though this will be paid for with foreign loans, it is still coming out of taxpayers’ money,” she said.

            While Indonesia’s defense spending has increased significantly in the last few years, the portion of the defense budget to gross domestic product has remained stagnant at 0.7 to 0.8 percent in the last 15 years, argued Andi Widjajanto, senior analyst in political security at Laboratorium Indonesia 2045. As such, he said Indonesia was aiming to maintain its current force and modernize the obsolete weapons systems, but Indonesia will not have any significant breakthrough in its posture.

Feb 12, 2022, The Jakarta Post


Indonesian Economy (GDP) Grows 3.69% in 2021

            The Indonesian economy succeeded in the fourth quarter of 2021 being able to grow above 5%. This makes the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country throughout 2021 grow positively in 2021, after the previous year it grew negative (contracted). On Monday (7/2/2022), the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) announced Indonesia’s economic growth data for the fourth quarter of 2021. Throughout October-December 2021, Indonesia’s GDP grew 1.06% compared to the previous quarter (quarter-to-quarter/qtq). Compared to the fourth quarter of 2020 (year-on-year/yoy), the Indonesian economy grew by 5.02%. This brings economic growth throughout 2021 to 3.69%.

            For the record, the market consensus compiled by CNBC Indonesia estimates that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country in October-December 2021 will grow by 0.98% qtq. Meanwhile, YoY economic growth is estimated at 5.06%. Thus, economic growth throughout 2021 is estimated at 3.65%. Much better than 2020, which was minus 2.07%.

Feb 07, 2022, CNBC Indonesia