Bali conducted mass prayers on Sunday as the Indonesian resort island prepares to reopen to tourists shut out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than a thousand people attended a prayer at Besakih Hindu temple in the town of Karangasem, expressing gratitude for the handling of the new coronavirus on the island and seeking blessings for the start of a "new normal".

Bali has reported 1,849 coronavirus infections and 20 deaths so far, while Indonesia as a whole has recorded 63,749 cases and 3,171 deaths since early March.

The idyllic Southeast Asian island will gradually reopen this month for domestic tourists, while maintaining a "strict health protocol" to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, Bali provincial secretary Dewa Made Indra told reporters.

The local government expects to reopen Bali to foreign arrivals in September. Tourism is Bali's main source of income. Travel restrictions due to the pandemic have hammered the local economy. The occupancy rate at Bali's starred hotels plunged to 2.07% in May, according to Bali statistics bureau data, from 62.55% in December before the pandemic hit and down from 51.56% in May 2019.

"What I hope is the best for Bali and ... all the tourists will come to Bali and everybody will be happy and healthy again," Robin Tesselar, a Dutch citizen staying in Bali, told Reuters after attending the Besakih prayers.

Tourism-related businesses are preparing to for the reopening by implementing the health protocols, aiming to improve them until Bali reopens for international tourists, said hospitality executive Yoga Iswara. (Jakpost)


The Indonesian Ministry of Trade, Agus Suparmanto, called for stakeholders to make use of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or IA-CEPA which has been made official on Sunday, July 5.


The IA-CEPA was initially established on November 2, 2010, by both country’s government leaders with the first and second rounds of trade taking place in 2012 and 2013 but was halted for three years. The trade deal annuls import duty for Indonesian products to enter Australia. 

In 2019, the Indonesia - Australia trade saw a USD3.2 billion deficit from the two country’s total trade value of USD7.8 billion. Indonesia’s export to its neighboring country was recorded to be USD2.3 billion with USD5.58 billion imports. This itself presented Indonesia with USD3.2 billion in deficit. 

“Indonesia’s top ten import commodities from Australia mostly consist of raw materials and support for the industry such as wheat, coal, iron ore, aluminum, aluminum sheets, raw sugar, and milk and cream,” said Agus Suparmanto on Sunday’s press release.

Meanwhile, the service trade according to Australia’s statistics saw Indonesia’s exports on service generated AUD 4.4 billion with AUD 1.7 billion imports for Australia, which makes Indonesia at AUD2.7 billion surplus. 

Most of Indonesia’s surplus in that aspect comes from services in the tourism and transportation sector while Indonesia continued to import services in academics from Australia. (Tempo.co)


The University of Indonesia hinted on Sunday that it was ready to work with the Ministry of Agriculture's Veterinary Research Agency to conduct animal testing and clinical trials regarding the ministry's innovation of eucalyptus-based COVID-19 treatment.

"The University of Indonesia's Faculty of Medicine and the Indonesia Medical Education and Research Institute (IMERI) have intensively been conducting COVID-19-related research projects," Dean of UI's Faculty of Medicine Prof.Ari Fahrial Syam said.

According to Syam, further research on the ministry's eucalyptus-based COVID-19 treatment was needed to unveil the antiviral effects and effectiveness of the eucalyptus-based products for handling the novel coronavirus cases.

The research projects focusing on the efficacy of the eucalyptus-based products for handling the COVID-19 cases remain at the cell level, and in vitro stage. They are not yet directed specifically for the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that triggers COVID-19.

Regarding the handling of COVID-19, he said the Indonesian people, media, and government show a high expectation. As a result, research projects that are still conducted at the cell level are then claimed to have produced antivirus drugs.

Meanwhile, Head of the Veterinary Research Agency at the Ministry of Agriculture Indi Dharmayanti revealed earlier that the ministry's COVID-19-related innovations remain in the in vitro stages that demand further research efforts.

She clarified that the eucalyptus-based COVID-19 innovative product is, actually, not a medicine because a further research on it still goes on.

"Instead, it is an extraction resulting from distillation method to kill the virus that we have used at laboratory. After a screening process, the eucaplyptus is able to kill the influenza virus and even coronavirus," she claimed.

Regarding this COVID-19-related innovative product, the Ministry of Agriculture has officially received a patent for its innovation. It has also collaborated with PT Eagle Indo Pharma (Cap Lang) for its massive production.

The Indonesian Government has supported various parties to conduct research and innovation projects to assist the nation's battle against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The government-sponsored research and innovation projects prioritize four areas: prevention, filtering and diagnosis; medical equipment and supporting devices; medicines and therapies; and, social humanities.

To this end, several leading universities in Indonesia have also joined the nation's fight against the coronavirus pandemic and made concrete contributions to efforts to save lives — from developing much-needed devices to research on COVID-19 treatment.

A team of scientists from the faculties of medicine and engineering at the University of Indonesia (UI), for instance, has developed a ventilator called COVENT-20 for patients suffering from the novel coronavirus disease.

As published on UI's official website, the Indonesian Health Ministry has declared the ventilator has passed human clinical trials.

The Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) has also developed a ventilator for COVID-19 patients, in collaboration with the Pembina Masjid Salman Foundation and Faculty of Medicine, Padjadjaran University (UNPAD). (ANTARA)


The Government of Norway will for the first time pay up to Rp812.86 billion or 530 million NOK to Indonesia for being able to reduce emissions from deforestation.

The money was result-based payment as agreed in cooperation in REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus), The Indonesian Embassy in Oslo said in a statement on Sunday.

Indonesian Ambassador to Norway Todung Mulya Lubis lauded the Norwegian Government's support to Indonesia in carbon emission reduction.

"We welcome the announcement on the result-based payment by Norway's Minister of Climate and Environment, Sveinung Rotevatn," Ambassador Lubis said.

Indonesia and Norway have established cooperation in the environmental affairs over the last 10 years.

Lubis held a meeting with Minister Rotevatn on June 17, 2020. The Norwegian Government considered Indonesia as an important partner in the efforts to slow down the climate change impact and to cut greenhouse gas emissions which have triggered global warming.

"We hope that this cooperation continues and will be intensified in coming years," the ambassador said.

Under the REDD+ cooperation agreement in 2010, Norway agrees to allocate funds amounting to six billion NOK or some RP9.2 trillion for Indonesia if successful in reducing carbon emissions.

"This is the first time Norway pays for Indonesia's results in emission reductions. After 10 years of hard work, deforestation in Indonesia is going down. Emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Indonesia were lower in 2016-17 than in the preceding decade," the Norwegian Government said on its official website dated July 4, 2020.

An independent third party has verified Indonesia's results for the forest year 2016-17.

The report confirms that Indonesia – home to the world's third largest rainforest – has reduced emissions amounting to approximately 17 million tons of CO2. This is equal to one third of all annual emissions from Norway.

This is a groundbreaking moment. Indonesia has embarked on a remarkable journey, and the forest and land use reforms undertaken by President Joko Widodo and Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya are yielding impressive results, Minister Sveinung Rotevatn said.

"These are good news for Indonesia, for the world, and for our partnership. Indonesia is all set to continue delivering further reduced deforestation, and we are delighted to make our first results-based payment and enter a new phase of our partnership," he remarked.

The disbursement is the first manifestation of the two countries having completed the two first phases of their partnership and entered the results-based phase, as announced in 2019. The calculation of Indonesia's results is based on jointly agreed rules.

The statement also quoted recently published reports from the Indonesian government that indicate that deforestation has stayed at the same level or lower in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

"This is very encouraging. These numbers will, if and when verified, be the basis for further results-based payments from Norway to Indonesia, enabling us – if Indonesia continues to deliver over the next few years – to continue to fulfill our 6 billion NOK pledge from 2010 through results-based payments," Rotevatn stated.

Indonesia is working to finalize the establishment of the government's Environment Fund (the BPDLH), which will be Indonesia's official channel for receiving results-based payments.

The full disbursements will happen when the Fund becomes operational and a grant agreement is signed, which is planned to happen this fall, the Government of Norway said in its statement .

The maximum number of emission reductions Indonesia can be rewarded for by Norway and other financiers is 11,2 mill tons CO2, after the deduction of a 35% set-asides for uncertainty, other risk factors, and Indonesia's own ambition, as agreed between the two countries.

For the result year 2016-17, Norway will provide result-based payment for all results available. The price is 5 USD per ton CO2 of the reduced emissions, totaling 530 million kroner (56 million USD) to Indonesia. (ANTARA)

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