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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     29 October  2011

Indonesia passes social security bill

On the last day that the long-awaited social security bill could be passed into law, the House of Representatives announced it had made history.

“For the first time, we have a social security scheme,” announced Deputy House Speaker Pramono Anung, who led the plenary late on Friday night.

Under the new law, a social security organizing body (BPJS) will be formed on Jan. 1, 2014, to provide health insurance to all Indonesians. Those with a regular income will have to pay monthly premiums, while the government will pay premiums for people who are poor or unemployed.

By July 2015 at the latest, a second BPJS will be running to provide work accident and life insurance as well as pension schemes.

These two bodies will take over and expand the work currently done by four state-owned insurers — Jamsostek, Taspen, Asabri and Askes — which manage Rp 190 trillion (US$22.2 billion) in insurance funds between them.

The transformation will also change the status of the state entities’ profits. Currently, the profits of the four state-owned enterprises go to the government. After the transformation, the profits will directly go to the new shareholders — the people.

On Friday, thousands of angry protesters, mostly from various workers unions, rallied in front of the House to demand that lawmakers pass the bill.

Missing the Friday deadline would have meant that the bill, already discussed through the maximum four sitting periods allowed under the House code, would have to be shelved until 2014 when a new slate of legislators will take their place.

The passage resulted in an eruption of cheering from the workers inside the plenary hall. They feted Rieke Dyah Pitaloka, a PDI-P lawmaker and a staunch advocate of the bill who is in a wheelchair due to her advanced pregnancy. They yelled happily around the House of Representatives complex.

House Speaker Marzuki Alie said in his closing speech that it was with the spirit of togetherness and putting people’s interests above everything else that the House and government managed to agree to pass the bill.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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