The Jakarta Post
Trade Minister Anggartiasto Lukita has blamed the recent increase in rice prices on traders accused of controlling rice stocks.
“We have a food task force. We are tough against those who act suspiciously; we will not tolerate them,” Enggartiasto said on Tuesday while inspecting a rice warehouse owned by the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) in North Jakarta as quoted by kompas.com.
According to the National Strategic Food Prices Information Center (PIHPSN), the price of medium-quality rice reached Rp 14,100 (99 US cents) per kilogram on average, much higher than the price ceiling of Rp 9,450 per kg.
The highest price was found in West Papua at Rp 14,250 per kilogram, compared to the province’s price ceiling of Rp 10,250 per kg. The lowest price for rice, meanwhile, was found in West Nusa Tanggara (NTB), at Rp 9,740 per kg, which is still higher than the province’s price ceiling.
Enggartiasto remained upbeat that a planned “market operation” to maintain stable rice availability would push down prices.
“We will monitor [prices] in the coming days; they are expected to decrease,” he said, adding that the intervention would continue until prices fall below the price ceilings.
Previously, Bulog president director Djarot Kusumayakti said the agency had prepared 950,000 tons of rice for the market operation in 2018.
He said the market operation was held in cooperation with the Indonesian Rice Millers and Entrepreneurs Association (Perpadi).
“We met Perpadi yesterday [Tuesday] to discuss actions to lower rice prices,” he added. (bbn)