We’re all in this together: Companies join hands to mitigate COVID-19 pandemic

Multinational and major local companies are rolling up their sleeves to not only keep businesses going but also help the government limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its harsh impact on economic activities in the country.

Assistance comes not only from the largest technology companies but also local publicly-listed companies and state-owned enterprises. They have come up with various initiatives to help the people affected by the new coronavirus, such as providing a safety net program.

Homegrown decacorn (a start-up valued at more than US$10 billion) Gojek announced on Wednesday through a press release that it would be the first on-demand application in Indonesia to launch an income assistance scheme for its driver-partners who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Gojek strives to keep people living life as normal as possible amid the challenges the COVID-19 has brought, including the partners in our ecosystem,” Gojek co-chief executive officer (CEO) Kevin Aluwi said in a written statement on Wednesday.

Gojek will provide a stipend for its driver-partners for 14 days and will put on hold any due payments of its partners, including for insurance coverage and vehicle installments, until they are cleared to go back to work. The income assistance scheme is available since Thursday.

Gojek joins other major multinational corporations in providing financial security for their workers. Global tech giant Apple, for example, has updated its sick-leave policy by providing unlimited paid leave to its hourly employees who become sick with COVID-19 symptoms.

Aside from the stipend given to its sick driver-partners, Gojek is also extending its support for healthcare workers by waiving food delivery fees in areas near hospitals and rolling out GoRide and GoCar vouchers for trips to and from hospitals and testing centers.

PT Adaro Energy Tbk (ADRO), PT Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk (INDF) and PT Puradelta Lestari Tbk (DMAS) are among the publicly listed companies that have donated funds to help cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indonesia’s major coal producer Adaro Energy, meanwhile, has handed the government Rp 20 billion ($1.33 million) in cash to help it fight COVID-19 through its task force set up to handle the crisis.

“We will use up to Rp 5 billion from the donation to provide ambulances and the remaining Rp 15 billion to be dedicated to the team responsible for providing logistical support and medicine for nurses, doctors and health workers, including ambulance drivers,” the head of the task force, Doni Monardo, who is also the chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said after receiving the donation on Monday.

SOE Minister Erick Thohir announced on Friday through a virtual press conference that, following a meeting with high-ranking officials including President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, the SOE’s CSR programs for this year would be used mostly to provide medical equipment and medical services for people infected with the new coronavirus.

The minister said that pharmaceutical SOEs would also be tasked with producing and distributing up to 4.7 million masks by the end of March.

Meanwhile, companies under the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) are in cooperation with the Buddha Tzu Chi Indonesia Foundation to raise up to Rp 500 billion ($31.27 million) in funds to donate healthcare equipment to medical workers.

The funds, which would be distributed under the coordination of the Health Ministry and the COVID-19 task force, would be in the form of 1 million rapid test kits, 20,000 coveralls, four ventilators and 1 million masks.

Meanwhile, Facebook announced on Wednesday through its Instagram platform that it would be offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits, the latter refers to a form of payment for users’ ads on Facebook and Instagram, to up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in more than 30 countries Facebook operates in.

“We want to focus on helping small businesses [that] need it most in this time of crisis, so they can keep the lights on and keep their people paid,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Jakarta Post on Friday, adding that the businesses did not have to be on its social media platform, either Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp, to be eligible for the grants.

“They are saving lives. Our job is to support them as best we can and be the champion of their noble role in this story,” co-CEOs Kevin and Andre Soelistyo wrote, referring to the driver-partners’ role in helping people stick to the social distancing regime urged by the government to limit the spread of the virus.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a sister corporation of the World Bank that focuses on developing the private sector in emerging markets, announced on March 17 it would increase its available COVID-19 financing to $8 billion, up from an earlier $6 billion.

The IFC has pledged to give out more loans to companies if needed, wherein $2 billion of its $8 billion support in the COVID-19 response package will be allocated to finance existing clients in the infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture and services industries that are deemed vulnerable to the pandemic. (ydp)

Source: The Jakarta Post