Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.
The government is allocating Rp 10 trillion (US$684.72 million) this year to provide loans for regional administrations, while taking measures to step up government spending, as it seeks to speed up the recovery of the pandemic-hit economy.Regional administrations have seen revenues decline by around 28 percent on average amid the coronavirus pandemic, said the Finance Ministry’s fiscal balance director general Astera Primanto Bhakti, adding that the pandemic had limited the ability of regions to fund priority programs.“We know that this is a challenge for regions and therefore we’ve introduced this loan scheme to support economic recovery in the regions,” Astera told reporters in a press briefing on Friday. Government-owned infrastructure financing firm PT Sarana Multi Infrastruktur (SMI) will act as a lender for the regional administrations and will allocate another Rp 5 trillion, thereby increasing the allocated budget to Rp 15 trillion this year for the loan scheme.Last month, the government approved loans for the Jakarta and West Java administrations, the country’s top economic and industrial hubs, respectively, worth Rp 16.5 trillion, for this year and next year, to help revive economic activities.The country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of goods and services produced, shrunk 5.32 percent year-on-year (yoy) in the second quarter, the steepest decline since the first quarter of 1999, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) announced on Wednesday.President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration has allocated Rp 695.2 trillion of the state budget to stimulate the economy and strengthen the country’s pandemic response, but slow disbursement as a result of red tape is expected to delay the impact on the economy. Government spending, which is expected to anchor the economy and boost people’s purchasing power amid cooling private-sector activity, plunged 6.9 percent yoy in the second quarter.Since the loan approval for the Jakarta and West Java administrations, several other regions namely East Java, Banten and East Nusa Tenggara have also expressed their interest in borrowing from the government, Astera went on to say.“Banten has agreed on a Rp 4 trillion loan for this year and next year, while other regions are still in the discussion process,” he said. “This will be very important if regions do not have the capacity to implement their programs.”Meanwhile, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati is pledging to spend Rp 1.4 quadrillion in the second half of this year to bolster economic growth, as the government promises faster stimulus spending for the remainder of the year.The government has disbursed 41.93 percent of a Rp 203.9 trillion budget for social protection, 13.43 percent of the Rp 120.6 trillion budget for business incentives and 26.3 percent of the Rp 123.47 budget for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) stimulus packages, according to data from the national economic recovery task force.However, stimulus spending for health care, ministries and regional administrations, as well as corporate financing lagged as the government only disbursed 7.83 percent of the Rp 87.55 budget for health care and 7.9 percent of the Rp 106.1 trillion budget for ministries and regions. The government has yet to disburse any funds for corporate financing.Sri Mulyani expects the economy to grow at no more than 0.5 percent, or even contract further in the third quarter, while fourth-quarter GDP growth is projected to be near 3 percent, making for a full-year expansion of zero to 1 percent.“The President always instructs us to disburse the economic recovery budget immediately so that the economy can recover sooner in the third quarter,” the head of the national economic recovery task force Budi Gunadi Sadikin told reporters on Friday.“We must expedite the process so that spending can increase by the end of the third quarter and can be completed by the fourth quarter,” he said.On Wednesday, Bank Central Asia (BCA) economist David Sumual told The Jakarta Post that the country’s economic performance would depend heavily on the government spending acceleration.“Although we expect a recovery in the third quarter, the economy is at risk of recession if the government fails to ramp up spending and boost consumer spending,” David said.Topics :
SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Press Release, Public Health Governor Tom Wolf today presented a series of proposed 2020-21 budget items totaling more than $1.1 billion to support reducing the risks to Pennsylvanians of lead and asbestos, and remediating existing toxins in schools, day care centers, homes, and public water systems.“Decades ago, well-intentioned Pennsylvanians constructed our homes, schools, waterways and other structures out of asbestos and lead because they were thought to be harmless, even superior materials,” Gov. Wolf said. “Now we know the serious harm both can cause. To build a better Pennsylvania, we first need to fix our foundation, which is why the five lead and asbestos removal initiatives I’m outlining today are so important.”Gov. Wolf’s proposed budget investments to address asbestos and lead include:Expanding the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to SchoolsGovernor Wolf is proposing that up to $1 billion in grants from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) be used for lead and asbestos remediation in schools, a problem plaguing many of the state’s aging school buildings and causing health concerns for students and their parents, teachers, and staff.RACP is a commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects.RACP projects are authorized in the Redevelopment Assistance section of a Capital Budget Itemization Act, have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.Leveraging CHIP Health Services InitiativeThe Department of Human Services is working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a Health Services Initiative (HSI) to improve the health of children and families in Pennsylvania by increasing funding of lead remediation activities in places where children have been exposed to high levels of lead.Remediation projects could include paint, water, and other sources of contamination. We are currently contemplating enhancing funding opportunities for current HUD grant recipients statewide, but also building infrastructure in 1-2 new areas to increase the regions in Pennsylvania ready and able to assist in lead remediation efforts moving forward. Funding will also be made available for training and certification to increase the number of individuals who are EPA-certified to complete lead remediation in areas where there are shortages of individuals to do this work.The plan is to have the program operational next state fiscal year. With a $4 million state investment, $10 million in federal dollars could be leveraged annually for an annual total of $14 million to support efforts around lead remediation.Transferring PENNVEST Grant FundsLegislation recently passed in Congress allows a state to transfer amounts from its clean water state revolving fund to its drinking water state revolving fund in order to address a threat to public health as a result of heightened exposure to lead in drinking water. Specifically, a state may transfer no more than 5 percent of the cumulative amount of the federal grant dollars awarded for its clean water state revolving fund to its drinking water state revolving fund. It also requires that states coordinate with EPA to get their buy-in for the transfer.By taking advantage of this new flexibility, PENNVEST may be able to free up to $90 million for Pennsylvania to address lead in drinking water by providing grants for lead service line replacement statewide. The amount transferred will not have a negative impact on future projects that could have been funded with that money and will be determined based on the amount of available dollars at the time the program begins.PENNVEST has proposed to spend the next year working with communities to identify shovel-ready projects that can then be funded in 2021. Potential grant recipients will need to do testing, feasibility studies, and other consulting work next year to prep for projects.Convening Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program Grant RecipientsThe Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program helps communities address housing-related health and safety hazards, in addition to lead-based paint hazards through the Lead Hazard control and Healthy Homes grants. The state, as well as several local communities, received notice of $22.5 million in funding awards in late September 2019. All recipients will target funds towards homes for low and very-low income families with children and will work with medical and social service providers.At the most recent lead roundtable hosted by the commonwealth, the request was made for the state to convene all Pennsylvania recipients to ensure collaboration in implementation – a project the Department of Health is working to implement in the coming weeks under the direction of Gov. Wolf.Implementing Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water GrantAuthorized under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grant creates a program to assist with voluntary testing for lead in drinking water at schools and child care programs. The grant opportunity was announced in 2018 and applications were due this year however, award notices have not yet been issued.Pennsylvania submitted a grant application, which included the support of PENNVEST and the departments of education, environmental protection, health, and human services. If awarded, approximately $1.7 million in funds will be used to develop and implement a lead testing program in schools and child care facilities throughout the state. This testing will include the prioritization of facilities serving younger children (ages 6 and under), underserved and low-income communities, and facilities that are older and more likely to contain lead plumbing.Funding will support the testing of 3,000 schools and child care facilities.Gov. Wolf was joined by Sen. Vincent Hughes and Rep. Jason Dawkins, who provided remarks, as well as numerus other legislators and advocates in support of these budget proposals.“Far too much of Pennsylvania is toxic and unsafe as a result of lead and asbestos,” Sen. Hughes said. “Our homes, childcare centers, and schools suffer from serious disrepair and long-term neglect. Thank you, Gov. Wolf, for making a significant financial commitment to clean up these vital, necessary and fundamental places in our community. We intend to win on your proposal and to use that victory to propel us to a long-term even more robust investment.”“I’m inspired by the plan and bold leadership that the Governor has displayed today with this announcement,” Sen. Jay Costa said. “Children across the state have been exposed to dangerous chemicals and crumbling facilities for years, and we know that it impacts their physical and mental health for their entire lives. Governor Wolf’s programs outlined today will save future generations of children from these problems.”“The unhealthy dangers of lead contamination are proven without any doubt, and lawmakers should enthusiastically support the governor’s initiative,” said Rep. Frank Dermody. “It will make a critical difference in many thousands of lives.”“Our children deserve to learn and our teachers deserve to teach in schools that don’t make them sick,” Rep. Jason Dawkins said. “This is something that we can all agree on. But for far too long, our children, teachers and anyone else who has entered school buildings in Philadelphia have literally taken their own lives in their hands. Why? Because often lead and asbestos were lurking inside. My delegation colleagues and I are overjoyed at the news that Gov. Wolf will be making investments in lead and asbestos remediation projects in our schools. Finally, we can take the steps to make our school buildings safe places to learn and to teach.”Gov. Wolf first introduced his Lead-Free PA initiative in August 2019 to call attention to the need for a law requiring universal blood level testing of children according to federal guidelines, and to convene regional task forces to address specific local needs.A Lead-Free PA task force convened in December to gather the input of communities and their partners toward compiling a complete list of needs so that funding, when allocated, goes directly to programs and initiatives that produce swift and measurable results toward protecting Pennsylvanians.“Together, these programs have the potential to assist thousands of Pennsylvanians with living healthier lives free of lead and asbestos danger,” Gov. Wolf said. “We have the opportunity to correct the past, and to build a brighter future. Pennsylvania should be a place free of lead and asbestos.” January 29, 2020 Gov. Wolf Announces Billion-Dollar Plan to Fix Toxic Schools, Address Lead Across Pennsylvania
USC Model United Nations held the closing ceremony for its annual Model UN conference for high school students Sunday. The conference, known as SCMUN, opened on Friday evening, and kicked off a full schedule of debate, problem solving and collaboration surrounding simulated situations in international affairs.During the conference, participants represented a country and formed a resolution group with other countries to meet their combined interests on a certain topic and determine future course of action following days of debating. Sophomore Alex Melnik, secretary-general of the conference, studying international relations and policy, planning and development, said the range of situations is wide and not limited to current affairs.“We have a mix of historical, contemporary and futuristic committees,” Melnik said. “For example, in terms of a future committee we have a committee that takes place in the year 2022 when the Winter Olympics are hosted in China, and the scenario is that Tibet is looking to secede from China.”Sophomore Shelley Dai, chief executive of the conference, said the event was a great success given the turnout.“We managed to grow this conference, I think, 133 percent from the last year, so it’s really high growth, and we’re looking forward to next year maybe getting 350 to 400 delegates,” Melnik said.Conference participation helps run the club’s operations. In addition to events for high school students, the club also sends delegates to compete in conferences around the country. Given the travel involved, participation in these competitions can be a large expense to bear without help.“Generally for conferences, we’ll have to stay in a hotel, and we have registration fees as well, but for the past few we’ve been able to subsidize all the spots we offered which is great, meaning that no matter your financial status, you’ll be able to go to a conference,” Dai said.The club has been very successful in these conferences recently.“We recently went to LAMUN, which is UCLA’s Model UN conference, and received a lot of different awards including the ‘best small delegation’ award, so we’re a very competitive team,” Melnik said.The club prides itself not only on competing in competitions but also on outreach efforts. The club launched a new program in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and their Youth Ambassadors program to bring Model UN to new high schools. The program provides 14 children an opportunity to learn about debate in Model UN as well as scholarships to attend a conference. Programs like these fit into the club’s guiding objective of helping others through Model UN.“Our main message throughout the club has been aiding others as the model United Nations,” Dai said. “We want to make sure these high schoolers and middle schoolers have a focus on nonprofits, which we’re both very involved in as well as a general message of helping out.”Getting involved in the club is fairly easy to do and doesn’t require any prior experience. Right now, the club has members from a wide range of academic backgrounds.“We have premed, engineering and computer science [students.] Part of the club has a training aspect to it, so people who have never done Model U.N. before will learn about public speaking, and about procedures, as well as just how to debate,” Melnik said.Dai spoke about the club’s transition from primarily seniors in leadership positions, to younger members taking over.“It’s been really interesting having this quick turnover from the seniors to the sophomores and having a young club trying to regain experience on our own,” Dai said. “Those are definitely some challenges we’ve been facing, but it means that we’ll have a lot of continuity as our club continues on.”
Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 25 (PTI) Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today backed state athlete P U Chitra, who was excluded from the Indian team for next months World Championships, despite qualifying for the mega event. Before the London event, Chitra won the 1,500m gold medal at the Asian Championships. “Excluding Chitra, pride of not only of Kerala but also of the country, from the team for World Athletics Championship is condemnable,” Vijayan said in a Facebook post. “Neglect shown to the athlete cannot be justified,” he added. The state government will take up the matter with the Centre, the chief minister said, adding they would extend full support to Chitra. The move to destroy the aspirations of Keralas sports personalities should be discouraged, he said. Besides Chitra, top Indian 3000m steeplechaser Sudha Singh and Ajoy Kumar Saroj (mens 1500m) were also left out of the 24-member squad announced by the Athletics Federation of India on Sunday. They were ignored despite qualifying for the event by winning the gold medals in their respective events in the July 6-9 Asian Championships at Bhubaneswar. Athletics Federation of India selection committee chairman Gurbachan Singh Randhawa had said the performance of the three in the Asian Championships (and their seasons best) were well below the World Championships qualifying standards. “We have not named some athletes who have won gold in Asian Championships because their performances were well below the IAAF World Championships qualifying standards,” he had said. The World Championships will be held in London from August 4 to 13. PTI BN AH AHadvertisement