Chairman's Message _ Monday, 6 April 2020

 Dear Britcham Members & friends,


As most of us are adjusting to both a new working and living paradigm I would like to bring you up to date with discussions that have been taken place between senior executives from key business sectors here in Indonesia.


For example, yesterday a group us representing pharmaceuticals, logistics, travel/hospitality, consumer, financial services, security services, energy, automotive, natural resources and media had a call with UK Ambassador Owen Jenkins. 


Some highlights


1.    Most multi nationals have sent non-essential staff and/or dependents back overseas. The Embassy has done likewise, and I believe the Ambassador has been very clear with respect to the Embassy’s advice in that respect. Concerns about ongoing access to healthcare and severe challenges with medivac have been overriding concerns. Travel options are extremely limited and will become even more restricted with the additional challenge of a requirement to obtain a clean health certificate prior to departure to many countries likely to become a reality sooner rather than later.


2.    Recent conflicting Government statements about movement restrictions within Indonesia have been a concern for the logistics sector in respect to the movement of goods across the archipelago. For the most part companies report that have been able to operate without significant disruption although there have been isolated reports of restrictions particularly with respect to Papua and some areas in Sumatra. Should members encounter problems going forward please let both Britcham and the Embassy know. 


3.    The Government’s US$25bn (2.4% of GDP) expansion of social protection programmes has been warmly applauded. There is no doubt that there is a need to cushion the impact on the poorest sections of the population as potential social unrest is always a concern.


4.    Although most office based staff are working from home, those UK companies that have production facilities here have being going to extraordinary lengths to maintain production particularly in key sectors like food, household consumables and pharmaceutical. However, executives are already seeing consumers delaying purchases of non-essential items, a trend that will impact the likes of the automotive sector very quickly.   


5.    Clearly the depreciation of the Rupiah has unnerved many business executives as did MOF’s announcement of a worst-case scenario of an exchange rate of IDR 20,000 to US$. The feedback from the Banking sector is that MOF’s scenario was just that… a scenario. However, Banking executives were at pains to point out that at least equal credence should be given to Bank Indonesia’s recent intervention to shore up the Rupiah which was seen a solid statement of intent to maintain some stability. 


6.    No surprise that the media sector is enjoying a bumper harvest on the digital/on-line as well as TV platforms. When asked about the Government’s official statistics relating to COVID 19, I believe there is a general acceptance that all Governments (UK included) are struggling to keep abreast of the actual situation on the ground. Thus, our advice is rather than worry too much about statistics, businesses should continue to focus on enforcing the mitigation measures that they have adopted and continue to inform employees about best practices outside of the workplace as well as risks associated with travel at mudik etc.   


Chris Wren and the Britcham Executive office team are continuing to engage with as many members as possible and please do reach out to Chris, the team or myself with any comments or suggestions.


We will also be arranging more opportunities for members to engage with the Board. In that respect I would like to draw your attention to the Britcham Education webinar on April 9th that will be featuring Board member and Head of the British School, David Butcher. Supervising online learning at home is a new challenge for parents and if like myself you have children that should have been taking exams and are now concerned about their University enrolment I would strongly encourage you to participate in this webinar with David and the panel.

In the meantime, stay safe and healthy and let’s all hope that we emerge from what is likely to be a very testing Q2 with a bit more optimism for the 2nd half of the year. 



Ainsley Mann