Coronavirus lockdown destroys jobs at record pace in ‘paralyzed’ Spain

first_imgJobless numbers for March, also published on Thursday, showed Spain registered its highest monthly increase ever, with a 9.3% jump from the previous month bringing the total number of unemployed people to around 3.5 million.The jobless data does not even reflect the full extent of the job losses, since some of those who lost their work had not been registered yet and others don’t have the right to unemployment benefits.”Practically paralyzed””The country is practically paralyzed as a result of the health emergency,” Unai Sordo, the leader of Spain’s biggest labor union CCOO, told broadcaster TVE.Looking at the social security data in more detail, 898,822 Spaniards – including 613,000 fixed-term workers – lost their jobs since the lockdown started.Meanwhile, many companies, from car plants to fast-food chains, have implemented “ERTE” temporary layoffs, under which companies that face financial difficulties can temporarily suspend a worker’s contract.ERTE applications take five days to process, suggesting the figure of 620,000 will rise.The CEOE employers’ group said those temporary layoff schemes had contained the rise in unemployment, and called for relaxed rules introduced because of the coronavirus to be extended when the lockdown ends.”It is crucial to relax the use of ERTES… in order to facilitate the recovery of sectors such as tourism or industry, which will be gradual, thus avoiding serious and lasting consequences for employment,” it said in a statement.March is usually a good month for employment in Spain because it marks the start of the holiday season, with many temporary workers finding jobs in the hospitality sector.”We will have to work on relaunching the economy once we can get control of the epidemic,” Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos told RNE radio.The social security data showed that around 80,000 workers are off sick with confirmed coronavirus, while another 170,000 are on sick leave because they are isolated after coming into contact with someone with the virus. Topics : Spain has shed jobs at a record pace since it went into lockdown to fight the coronavirus, social security data showed on Thursday, laying bare the scale of the epidemic’s impact in the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy.Some 900,000 workers have lost their job since mid-March, with those on short-term contracts in tourism or construction among the hardest hit. At least another 620,000 have seen their contracts suspended with temporary layoffs and tens of thousands are on sick leave.”The data is extraordinary, it’s unprecedented,” Social Security Minister Jose Luis Escriva told a news conference. “It reflects a real disruption to normal activity.”center_img Spain, which has the world’s second-highest death toll from the epidemic after Italy with 10,003 fatalities as of Wednesday, has allowed citizens to leave home since March 14 for essential trips only.This week, Spain tightened the lockdown further, with only employees in key sectors permitted to travel to and from work. Streets are empty, and hotels, restaurants and bars are closed.Some 900,000 jobs were also lost at the peak of the 2008/9 financial crisis, but that happened over 20 weeks rather than under three weeks now with the coronavirus, Escriva said.Thursday’s data is some of the first globally to reveal the lockdown’s impact on the labor market.last_img read more

Asia’s Quest Ventures plans to invest in Indonesia

first_img“We were deliberate in selecting our investors and we hope with this fund we can bring different skill sets, domain experience and connections to help our companies,” said Goh Yiping, partner at Quest Ventures.Asia Fund II was Quest Ventures’ first institutionally backed fund, receiving financing from Pavilion Capital from Singapore and QazTech Ventures, Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund subsidiary.The funding marked Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund’s first investment in a venture capital fund in Asia.“This partnership with Quest Ventures and Pavilion Capital will enable Kazakhstani start-ups to secure important investments, improve competencies and gain access to global markets,” said Adil Nurgozhin, chairman of the board of directors at QazTech Ventures. (eyc)Topics : Singapore-based venture capital Quest Ventures plans to expand its investment to Indonesia, among other Southeast Asian countries, after recently announcing the first close of a fund worth US$50 million.The amount represented more than half of its target for the fund named Asia Fund II. It will be invested in post-seed and series A stages funding in start-ups across Southeast Asia and emerging Asia such as Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines.Quest Ventures has been deploying capital in Singapore and Vietnam with its portfolio, including as second-hand e-commerce platform Carousell, property finding platform and rental fashion StyleTheory.last_img read more

Papuan armed group accused of shooting COVID-19 team members

first_imgMilitary and police personnel belonging to the Nemangkawi task force in Intan Jaya regency, Papua, are on a manhunt for an armed group that purportedly shot members of a local COVID-19 response team.As reported by Antara News Agency, the Nemangkawi joint task force released a statement on Saturday saying an armed group had shot two health workers affiliated with the local COVID-19 task force in Wandai district, Intan Jaya regency, on Friday at 4:30 p.m. local time.The two medical workers – identified as Amalek Bagau, 30, and Eniko Somou, 39 – were shot while delivering medical supplies to a remote area in Intan Jaya regency. The Nemangkawi task force, with the assistance of the Intan Jaya Police, managed to locate and evacuate the victims and transferred them to the Nabire General Hospital on Saturday morning, according to the statement.Read also: OPM says TNI, police shot medical workers in PapuaPapua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. AM Kamal said Amalek had survived the incident, but was in critical condition, while Eniko had died from his wounds.“It took us about five hours to arrive at the crime scene,” Kamal said, citing difficulties in navigating the steep terrain.The case is the latest in a recent string of violence that has resulted in the deaths of civilians in the region.In April, two young Papuans, Eden Armando Bebari and Ronny Wandik, were allegedly shot to death by security forces in Mimika regency after being mistaken for members of an armed separatist group. A week before that, New Zealander Graeme Thomas Wall, an employee of gold and copper mining company PT Freeport Indonesia, was killed by gunmen in the area. (rfa)Topics :last_img read more

S. Africans reluctant to return to places of worship despite lockdown easing

first_imgTopics : ‘Not yet time’ Lockdown forced tech savvy South Africans to seek out online worship, challenging the ordinary and mundane nature of many religious services.”I’ve been streaming different sermons online… at first it was weird but now I am used to it,” said 22-year old Ntokozo Zulu, a devoted Christian living with her elderly mother. “It’s a way to make sure that I still keep in touch with God,” she said adding that for some people religion was a lifeline.”I can bet people needed that close relationship with God during this tough coronavirus lockdown.”But the reopening of places of worship has sparked controversy with religious leaders themselves perplexed on how to resume safely.In a letter to parishioners, clergy and bishops of the Anglican church, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said there was a consensus that “it is not yet time to resume worship”.He said preliminary reports had shown many dioceses and parishes had raised concerns including the return of pensioners and clergy over 60-years old, what to do if more than 50 congregants arrive and how to respond if congregants begin singing or mingling spontaneously.Calling for further engagement with the South African Council of Churches and the state, the archbishop said it would take time to gather the data needed before a decision to resume Anglican services can be made.Even the Zion Christian Church, South Africa’s largest operating church, has opted not to resume services despite the easing of restrictions.  “Our first service was today… we didn’t have as many of our congregation members as usual,” Pastor Sylvain Malindhva of Peniel ministries told AFP. “The fear is there… a lot of people are still hesitating to come to the churches.”In Johannesburg’s crowded business district, some small evangelical churches have opened up for services under strict government regulations including the wearing of masks and social distancing.”God gave us also wisdom and intelligence. We can’t just say because we are praying we are not going to observe those preventative measures,” Malindhva said. But many religious locals are opting to stay away.center_img Strange space “I am praying at home, God hears me just fine when I pray at home with my family,” 57-year-old vegetable seller Gloria Msibi told AFP.”I love church but it is so dangerous to be in a closed space with so many people.”Since recording its first virus case on March 5, Africa’s most modern nation has reported nearly 46,000 infections and 952 deaths, registering at least 1,000 new infections daily in recent days.On Friday many South African mosques hosted their first prayers in more than two months.”We usually stand shoulder to shoulder. Right now we have to give space which is kind of strange,” IT technician Tunde Oladeji told AFP after prayers at a Turkish mosque in Midrand, north of Johannesburg. “It is still better to be here than to be at home because praying in a mosque is really special.”A fellow congregant described the prayer session as both “emotionally and spiritually challenging.””It is something different and so we have to adapt, and adapting is a challenge for some people. So it will take time, but hopefully … we will get through this together.” White plastic chairs are sprayed down with sanitizer and a smartly dressed cleaner says a prayer while dusting before a first service in her church in more than nine weeks.  President Cyril Ramaphosa gave places of worship across South Africa the greenlight to reopen from June 1 provided they could satisfy appropriate COVID-19 self-regulation measures.But few have done so to date, with many worshippers hesitant to return for fear of catching the coronavirus. last_img read more

Fishermen, activists decry Anies’ decision to grant reclamation for Ancol expansion

first_imgLocal fishermen and activists in the capital city Jakarta have expressed concerns over the Jakarta Bay’s ecological future following the administration’s decision to proceed with a reclamation project to expand the city’s popular tourist spot Ancol in North Jakarta.Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan issued a decree in February to give the green light for a 155-hectare expansion plan for city-run tourist destinations Taman Impian Jaya Ancol (Ancol Dreamland Park) and Fantasi Land (Dufan) theme park.Fishermen raised questions over the issuance of the decree, which was published by the city on its official website in March, as they claimed it was in contrast with the ruling by the Supreme Court last week. The Court ruled in favor of the city administration in cassation against developer PT Taman Harapan Indah over the revocation of the company’s islet H reclamation permit in Jakarta Bay. Susan Herawati, the secretary-general of the People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice Indonesia (KIARA), said she feared the decision would make way for the controversial reclaimed islets project to continue in the future.“We fear that the revocation of permits to reclaim and build on 13 islets [issued by Anies in September 2018] be canceled in the future, looking at the governor’s indecisive manner,” she told The Jakarta Post on Friday.By issuing Gubernatorial Decree No. 237/2020, the governor allows a 35-hectare expansion for Dufan and 120 hectares for Ancol Dreamland park on the reclaimed areas.Read also: Reclamation or not: City struggles to win lawsuits Jakarta city secretary Saefullah argued that the reclamation for the Ancol expansion was different from the 13 islets reclamation projects, the permit for which had been revoked by Anies in 2018, a year after he took office.“There are already 20 hectares of rising land in East Ancol [Ancol Dreamland Recreational Park]. It resulted from around 3.5 million cubic meters of mud being dredged from five reservoirs and 13 rivers in Jakarta through the Jakarta Emerging Dredging Initiative (JEDI) and Jakarta Urgent Flood Mitigation Project (JUFMP),” Jakarta administration secretary Saefullah said in a press briefing on Friday.“The governor issued the decree so that [city-owned enterprise PT Pembangunan Jaya Ancol] can obtain a management right,” he added.The administration claimed that an agreement with PT Pembangunan Jaya Ancol to use 120 hectares of land in East Ancol as a sludge disposal site was made in 2009. The latest decree now allows the reclamation of the 120-hectare area.Saefullah added that the Ancol expansion aimed to provide recreational areas for the public. “The reclamation ground will be for the public. We prioritize people’s interest,” he said, adding that Ancol was chosen because there were no fishermen in the area.In the letter, Anies required PT PJA to complete studies on integrated flood mitigation, global warming impacts, taking material for land expansion, infrastructure planning and environmental impacts before doing the reclamation.NGO Maritime and Ecology Association director Martin Hadiwinata said such requirements should have been fulfilled before Anies issued the decree.“Meanwhile, sludge disposal has been going on for 11 years and surely has an ecological impact. Yet it went without any environmental impact analysis (AMDAL),” he told the Post.Echoing Martin, Susan demanded the administration display data on the ecological impact of the disposal of dredging material.Furthermore, she argued that the decree had no strong legal basis. She pointed out that the decree only cited Law No. 29/2007 on the Jakarta administration as Indonesia’s capital, Law No. 23/2014 on regional governments and Law No. 30/2004 on governmental administration, but did not include Law No. 27/2007 on coastal areas and small islands management.“But their argument is that the agreement between the city and PT PJA was made a long time ago. As if the governor has no power to revoke it. It’s a matter of political will,” she said.Topics :last_img read more

Indonesian peacekeeping contingent helps free American hostage in DR Congo

first_imgThe Indonesian peacekeeping contingent of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), or MONUSCO, has succeeded in helping to free a United States citizen who was held hostage by an armed bandit group in the African country.Col. Daniel Lumban Raja, the commander of the Indonesian Military’s Garuda Contingent XXXIX-B Rapidly Deployable Battalion (RDB), said the US national, identified as Sarah, was released after having been held by the bandit group for 16 days in Ake village, some 10 kilometers from DRC’s Lulimba.“The rescue began with the transfer of information from the MSF team to the Lulimba Static Combat Deployment (SCD) commander, Maj. Yoni,” Daniel said in a statement published on Monday. Before the operation took place, the Indonesian military members started by planning a negotiation with the bandit group as they feared that Sarah’s condition might have worsened after more than two weeks held hostage.Yoni, together with the MSF team, the village chief, the DRC armed forces (FARDC) regiment commander and the local police, held a briefing in Lulimba to finalize the negotiation plan and prepare anticipatory steps.Read also: Death of Indonesian peacekeeper highlights dangers of field operationsDaniel said the village chief and two members of the MSF team carried out the negotiation successfully and reached an agreement with three bandits armed with AK-47s.“The RDB played an important role in ensuring that the situation was under control by implementing outer ring security in order to provide backup and take action in the event of a critical situation during the hostage negotiation process,” Daniel said.The bandit group finally agreed to free Sarah. She was reported to be in stable condition during the time of the release and was immediately admitted for intensive medical examination afterward.The Indonesian Military, however, did not mention the date of Sarah’s release in its statement. (syk)Topics :last_img read more

Retail investors prone to bias, herd behavior, experts warn

first_imgRetail investors, who have surged in numbers during the pandemic, are prone to behavioral bias and herd behavior, experts have warned, although the impact on the country’s stock exchange remained limited.The behavioral biases include confirmation bias, where people only want to hear things that align with their predisposed outlook and ignore those that are not, according to Budi Frensidy, a stock market expert from the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Indonesia.Another type of bias is availability bias, which refers to the tendency of people taking action based on familiar information, without further investigation. Foreign investors dumped Rp 295.44 billion (US$20.3 million) worth of stocks on Tuesday, sustaining a trend of foreign net sells that amounted to Rp 19.11 trillion this year. Read also: Domestic investors dominate stock market amid pandemicOn June 8, retail investors’ average daily transaction value surpassed that of the institutional investors by Rp 2.9 trillion, the first time in history, according to IDX.However, Budi said that the behavioral bias would not significantly impact the market, as retail investors’ funds were only around 17 percent of those of institutional investors.Meanwhile, Anugerah Mega Investama director Hans Kwee said retail investors also tended to be influenced by herd behavior in that they are likely to react faster to negative news than positive ones.“When the market goes down, people tend to panic,” Hans said. “But when [the trading] is temporarily suspended following the decline, people return to being rational and that is why we can see prices rallying up,” he added, noting how regulatory actions could counteract investors’ behavioral dispositions. Hans attributed the rising participation of retail investors to the large-scale social restrictions implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which led to many people working from home.As of July 24, the average number of daily retail investors trading on the market increased by 52 percent year-on-year (yoy) in July, with the highest number recorded so far on July 24 when the bourse saw over 112,000 retail investors trading on a single day, according to data provided by IDX development director Hasan Fawzi.In July last year, the average was 60,000 daily retail investors.Almost 70 percent of the retail investors in the country were under 40 years old, Hasan said.However, he saw the trend as something positive, noting that the dominance of domestic retail investors would help the bourse to be less volatile against the foreign capital flight.“We hope that this can increase our capital market resilience level, especially in times of volatility or economic crisis,” Hasan said.Indonesia’s capital market is considered to be shallow at Rp 5.92 quadrillion in market capitalization as of Tuesday, a steep fall from Rp 7.26 quadrillion in 2019, IDX data showed.The IDX is planning to introduce new systems to prevent trading actions taken based on asymmetric information. Hasan said that the bourse is developing a watch list board to highlight companies that have issues with liquidity, volatility or irregular price discovery mechanisms, so that investors could be made aware of the risks when investing in these stocks. It is also working into integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect irregular market activities, such as false trading and stock price manipulation, to improve market surveillance.Read also: Market manipulation among common violations found at IDX: OJK “Retail investors run into behavioral bias, something that institutional investors do not experience, as institutional investors have to refer to a set of guidelines or strict rules,” Budi said during a webinar on Tuesday, saying that, for example, institutional investors had to keep their losses within a predetermined percentage range.Retail investors, on the other hand, are more flexible in their investing, and their asset allocation is determined by more varied factors, including their age, in comparison to institutional investors whose asset allocation is solely determined by their ability to take risks, Budi explained.During the pandemic, the local bourse saw a significant increase in domestic retail investors’ participation, while foreign investors sustained selling pressure on the market. The number of retail investors at Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) has reached over 1.2 million, growing by 12.17 percent as of June 30 from December last year, according to data shared by Budi.According to IDX data, the bourse on Tuesday comprised of 62 percent domestic investors and 38 percent foreign investors. At the end of last year, the shares of domestic and foreign investors were 55.71 percent and 44.29 percent, respectively.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Govt to expand social aid, incentives to boost household demand, economy

first_imgThe government is planning to expand its social aid program and incentives for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in an effort to boost consumer spending and revive the sluggish economy in the second half of this year, as fears of a recession loom.Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Wednesday the government would reallocate around Rp 70.8 trillion (US$4.85 billion) from existing ineffective stimulus packages to fund the social aid expansion and new incentives so that the government would not need to increase its COVID-19 response budget, already worth Rp 695.2 trillion.“This will include extending the social aid program period to December to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said during a livestreamed press conference. The government is preparing aid for workers with salaries lower than Rp 5 million per month and allocating an estimated budget of Rp 31.2 trillion for such aid.State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Erick Thohir, who serves as executive chairperson for the national economic recovery and COVID-19 response team, further explained in a statement on Thursday that the aid for workers would be in the form of direct cash transfers.The aid would be focused on 13.8 million workers registered on the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan) database who are not civil servants or SOEs employees.“The workers will receive Rp 600,000 per month for four months, disbursed directly to each worker’s bank account every two months to prevent misuse,” said Erick. “This program is currently being finalized so it can be carried out by the Manpower Ministry this September.”Sri Mulyani also said the government would offer electricity and tax incentives for businesses and industries as well as productive aid for ultra-micro and micro businesses to support the supply side and help businesses to reduce their production costs.The electricity incentive will be in the form of a minimum billing waiver for businesses, industries and social sectors while the tax incentive will take the form of 50 percent corporate income tax discount from the previous 30 percent cut.“We will also disburse aid to 12 million MSMEs with a total budget of Rp 30 trillion,” she said, stressing that the aid was meant for productive use and was not in the form of loans.The expansion, however, comes with a drawback as the government will reduce the amount of cash transfers for underprivileged families by half to only Rp 300,000 per month per family.The expansion in social stimulus would boost purchasing power and bolster household spending in the second half of the year, said Bahana Sekuritas economist Satria Sambijantoro, despite projecting that Indonesia’s economy would likely see another contraction in the third quarter.“The possible backload of stimulus could be a blessing in disguise for the economic outlook in the second half of 2020,” he wrote in a research note.The inclusion of low-income formal workers in the social aid program, along with the distribution of salary bonuses for civil servants and low-income formal workers, would cut through the red tape in budget disbursement, he said.“We think household spending growth will continue to surpass investment growth for the rest of 2020,” said Satria.SMERU Research Institute researcher Ruhmaniyati, however, frowned upon the idea of aiding formal workers with monthly fixed income as the government should help informal workers instead.“There are still a lot of families with an income of less than Rp 5 million a month that work in the informal sector and need the aid,” she told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.Institute for Development on Economics and Finance (Indef) executive director Tauhid Ahmad echoed the sentiment, saying the aid for low-income workers was mistargeted.“They are not poor. The aid could potentially sit in saving accounts as those workers hold back on spending,” he said. “This can create a detrimental effect on the economy and trigger a recession in the third quarter.”Topics : Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrunk 5.32 percent year-on-year (yoy) in the second quarter as all components except for net exports fell annually as a result of the pandemic.Consumer spending, which accounts for more than half of GDP, fell 5.51 percent yoy in the second quarter, while investment, the second-largest contributor, contracted 8.61 percent.Sri Mulyani expects the economy to grow at no more than 0.5 percent, or even contract further, in the third quarter, which would mean a recession for Indonesia, while fourth-quarter GDP growth is projected to be near 3 percent, making for a full-year expansion of zero to 1 percent.Under the plan, the government will allocate Rp 4.6 trillion to increase the amount of rice for the 10 million recipients of the Family Hope Program (PKH) to 15 kilograms per month. It would also disburse Rp 500,000 to 10 million Staple Food Card recipients this month.last_img read more

Three killed in landslide at illegal mine in Central Java

first_imgHe added that rescuers spent hours trying to recover the victims’ bodies as they needed to remove huge rocks and landslide debris, requiring the use of heavy machinery.Read also: Mining accident tip of icebergSouth Kendeng Energy and Mineral Resources Agency head Teguh Yudi Pristiyanto said the mine had been operated without the proper license and permits.“The location of the landslide is part of the Sukolilo karst area, where mining is banned,” said Teguh.The police are investigating the incident. Grobogan Police’s criminal investigation department chief Adj. Comr. Andi Moh. Akbar Mekuo said his team would coordinate with the local energy and mineral resources agency during the investigation.“Local police officers said authorities had warned the miners about their unauthorized activities,” Andi said. (trn)Topics : A landslide has killed at least three miners at an unauthorized mine in Brati district, Grobogan regency, Central Java, on Wednesday.Brati Police chief First Insp. Zaenal said the three miners were hit by large rocks when a 30-meter-tall hillside collapsed. The three victims were identified as Suwadi, 45, Yulianto, 35 and Ridwan, 39, all of whom were residents of Katekan village.“They died on site,” Zaenal said on Wednesday, as quoted by read more

MAKI demands Firli’s demotion if found guilty of ethics violation

first_imgAn antigraft watchdog has urged the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Supervisory Council to demote chairman Firli Bahuri if he is proven to have violated the KPK’s code of ethics with his alleged “hedonistic lifestyle”.The Indonesian Anti-Corruption Community (MAKI) filed a report against Firli for using a private helicopter to take a personal trip from Palembang, North Sumatra, to his hometown of Baturaja in the same province in June.“If he violated the KPK code of ethics, he should be demoted to deputy chairman,” MAKI coordinator Boyamin Saiman said during a hearing on the case on Tuesday. Topics : Boyamin said the council had asked him to prove MAKI’s complaints, including details on the alleged helicopter ride and a photograph of Firli without a face mask and therefore, violating, COVID-19 health protocols.He claimed that based on the registration number, the helicopter had been used by a “high-ranking official” on a trip from Surakarta, Central Java, to Semarang in the same province in 2015. He also refuted Firli’s previous claim that had taken a helicopter to save time, saying that a trip from Palembang to Baturaja would take three to four and a half hours by road.During the hearing, Boyamin also that Firli claimed he paid for the helicopter service with his own money after previous concerns that the ride, estimated to cost up to US$1,400 an hour, was an illicit gift given by another party.Firli declined to answer reporters’ questions after the hearing, saying he had given all the necessary information to the supervisory council.He had denied the alleged ethical violations on Monday, claiming he had taken the helicopter to support his work and not for personal use. He added that he made enough money to pay for the ride.Based on a 2015 government regulation on the financial, protocols and security rights of KPK commissioners, the chairman of the antigraft agency earns a total salary of Rp 123.93 million (US$  8,449) per month, including allowances.Tumpak and other council members were not immediately available for comment regarding the hearing.Boyamin also expressed his appreciation of the supervisory council for swiftly handling the complaint, adding that prior to its establishment in 2019, the KPK’s internal supervisory unit could take more than a year to follow up on reports of ethics violations.center_img The helicopter trip, he argued, indicated Firli’s “hedonistic lifestyle” and went against KPK rules prohibiting its leaders from indulging in luxury.In addition to hearing Boyamin’s testimony, council members also summoned Firli to provide an explanation.Supervisory council chairman Tumpak Hatorangan Panggabean led the hearing.Read also: ‘My salary is enough to rent a helicopter’: KPK chair Firli Bahuri denies violating ethicslast_img read more