Jokowi introduced cash transfers into the Indonesia Smart Card (KIP) for students’ monthly stipends for school fees, an Indonesia Health Card (KIS) providing free health care services and the Prosperous Family Saving Card (KKS)(Photo: Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo has passed a new regulation on the pre-employment card program as part of its broader efforts to cushion the economy from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new Presidential Regulation No. 76 of 2020, inked on July 7, as an updated policy to the previous one No. 36 of 2020, which was released in March. In total, the government made eleven changes in the new regulation that has taken effect beginning July 8.

First announced during Widodo’ reelection campaign, the pre-employment cards aim to aid job seekers and laid-off workers by granting them access and funding to a broad range of training. It aims to address skill shortages, which have become a real problem in the country’s workforce, as the education system has fallen short of producing graduates with the skills needed by the industry.

“In terms of the implementation of the pre-employment card program as social assistance to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and in order to develop and improve the governance of the program, it is necessary to amend several rules in the Presidential Regulation No.36/2020,” the newly-introduced regulation reads.

In the new policy, the government added another purpose of the program on Article 2, which was to develop entrepreneurship. The government also detailed points in Article 3 that workers who need competence development are those who are laid off and non-wage workers, including entrepreneurs of micro and small businesses.

A new point was also added concerning people who are barred from joining the program. They are state officials, leaders, and members of regional legislatures, state apparatus, military, and police officers, village heads and officials, as well as directors, commissioners, and supervisory board members of state or region-owned firms.

The government has allocated Rp10.3 trillion (US$752.24 million) this year for the program, targeting 2 million people to join it. The government would provide Rp500,000 for each participant to cover their accommodation and transportation costs during the training program.

However, the program had drawn widespread public criticism over the apparent lack of transparency since it was launched on March 20, with an aim to provide a safety net to workers affected by the health crisis. The two key criticisms were that the appointment of online partners through a non-transparent process left it open to conflicts of interest and that it did not comply with the prevailing regulation on the procurement of goods and services.

Earlier in June, the Corruption Eradication Commission uncovered irregularities in the program, including potential for conflicts of interest and risk of mistargeting. The agency found potential conflicts of interest in at least 250 courses provided by third-party institutions that had ties to partnering platforms.

For instance, partnering platform Pintaria offered 199 courses, one-third of which was provided by its parent education technology company HarukaEdu. By the end of June, the program was offering 3,805 courses through eight partnering platforms, including e-commerce giants Tokopedia and Bukalapak.

US$1=Rp14,200

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexynantu@theinsiderstories.com