International Day of Parliamentarism: Parliament’s role during the COVID-19 crisis

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This article is part of a series in which OECD experts and thought leaders – from around the world and all parts of society – address the COVID-19 crisis, discussing and developing solutions now and for the future. It aims to foster the fruitful exchange of expertise and perspectives across fields to help us rise to this critical challenge. Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the OECD.

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Tackling Coronavirus (COVID-19): Contributing to a global effort

The COVID-19 pandemic is posing threats not only to human health and life, but also to people’s socio-economic well-being and countries’ economic growth. According to the OECD, the global economy is currently suffering its deepest recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

One of the many visible issues of the current pandemic is the rampant unemployment and loss of income. As well as poverty, it could impede people to access basic services due to unaffordability. It is estimated that 2.9-5.2 million people could lose their jobs in Indonesia as a result of this global health crisis. We should be cautious as the pandemic could worsen inequality and inequity among citizens as well as countries.

Read the OECD Policy Response: Supporting livelihoods during the COVID-19 crisis

Read the OECD Policy Response: Supporting livelihoods during the COVID-19 crisis
Photo: Shutterstock/Sajid1264

The role of parliament is more relevant than ever before. Parliaments can propose and adopt necessary laws to assist their respective governments in mitigating and tackling COVID-19 and its adverse impacts. Further, parliaments can oversee the expenditure of the public funds related to COVID-19. It is crucial to ensure that the funds are allocated properly, and all individuals receive fair distribution of the benefits of COVID-19 containment measures.

In responding to the COVID-19 crisis, the Indonesian parliament also established the COVID-19 Task Force. It aims to provide assistance and support in the form of medical equipment and protective means to hospitals and community health centres.

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While our way of working has also changed – many members of parliaments and their staff work remotely and through online means – health and safety are our top priority. We should embrace this “new normal” era, at least to some extent: it demonstrates the necessity of technological development that should be improved by many countries. 

It is also important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic requires a global response. Every state has different capacities and resources to counter the challenges, whether it is health, social or economic. Therefore, international co-operation is necessary to ensure that states, especially low- to middle-income countries, can thrive in this moment of crisis and eliminate their obstacles in tackling COVID-19.

Parliaments themselves should also intensify this co-operation and share their best practices, experiences and challenges in dealing with the COVID-19.

Parliaments themselves should also intensify this co-operation and share their best practices, experiences and challenges in dealing with the COVID-19. International organisations such as the OECD and its Global Parliamentary Network have a pivotal role during these unprecedented times. They help to facilitate policy dialogue on important socio-economic matters and provide us with advice and recommendations, so that parliaments can use them as guidelines to improve the situation and/or propose it to the government.

The Indonesian Parliament also has a view that the implementation and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the SDGs should be the measure for parliaments to prevent trade-offs in this moment of crisis, for example, between the economy and health, in any laws or programmes. 

More on the Forum Network: A Future in the Balance: Will the recovery be Green? by Philippe Lamberts, MEP, European Parliament

More on the Forum Network: A Future in the Balance: Will the recovery be Green? by Philippe Lamberts

This is also the time to open our eyes and realise the importance of improving individuals' social and economic rights – especially the poor and vulnerable – such as clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) and economic growth tied to decent work (SDG 8). It is clear that fighting COVID-19 requires people to have clean water and sanitation – and not everyone has access to it.

We should not wait to improve the situation until, god forbid, the next crisis occurs. We have to ensure that our nations’ socio-economic development would not leave anyone behind, as envisaged by the 2030 Agenda. In that regard, every decision, law and regulation made must also be based on principles of equality, participation, non-discrimination, accountability and transparency.

It is also important to emphasise that the entire Indonesian House of Representatives, including those in the commissions, are working to support the implementation and achievement of the SDGs. And we, in the Committee for Inter-parliamentary Cooperation, will always support resolutions relevant to SDGs and that are in the public interest.

Related Topics

Tackling COVID-19 Sustainable Development Goals

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Fadli Zon

MP; Chairman of Committee for Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation, Indonesian House of Representatives

Chairman of Committee for Inter- Parliamentary Cooperation, Indonesian House of Representatives. Fadli Zon was born in Jakarta on 01 June 1971. He holds his bachelor’s degree majoring in Russian Studies from the Faculty of Humanity of the University of Indonesia, his master’s degree majoring in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in United Kingdom and his doctoral degree majoring in the History of Mohammad Hatta’s Economic Thought from the Faculty of Humanity of the University of Indonesia. In 1994, he was crowned as the first winner of the most outstanding student of the University of Indonesia and the third winner for the national level. He was also elected as the Member of the Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR RI) for 1997–1999 period. He is appointed as the Vice Speaker of the House for 2014-2019 period. Besides his activities in the parliament, he is also the Vice Chairperson of Gerindra Party Central Board for 2008-2020 period, the President of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) for 2015-2017 period, the Chairperson of the Indonesian Farmers Association (HKTI) for 2015-2020 period and the Editorial Board of HORISON, a Literature Magazine, since 1993. Currently he is the Vice Chair of GOPAC and Chair of SEAPAC.