Indonesia’s Stimulus Plan Draws Fire From Environmentalists and Unions

Indonesia’s Stimulus Plan Draws Fire From Environmentalists and Unions

Indonesia’s Parliament is on the verge of approving a sweeping coronavirus stimulus package that opponents charge would undermine worker protections and permit widespread destruction of the country’s rainforests.

The legislation is backed by Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, and is seen as a way to attract investment and stimulate the creation of new jobs by reducing regulations on businesses. Its supporters hope to win passage before Parliament ends its session next Friday, even as opposition to the measure grows.

A confederation of labor unions is calling for a three-day national strike starting on Tuesday over provisions in the bill that would reduce job security, wages and mandatory days off. Union leaders say the strike has the backing of five million workers from dozens of industries.

Environmentalists oppose the measure because it would eliminate environmental reviews for many new projects and could lead to the destruction of primary rainforests that are essential in controlling carbon emissions and slowing climate change.

“The government is pursuing this policy as if they were completely deaf and blind to the effect on people by the emerging climate crisis,” said Phelim Kine, senior director for Asia at Mighty Earth, a global environmental campaign organization. “This is the Indonesian equivalent of ‘Drill, baby, drill.’”