The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian Ombudsman has urged the government to maintain a strict policy on the import of rice, corn, sugar and salt -- four staple commodities, whose imports often spark controversy -- ahead of the presidential and legislative elections in April.
The Ombudsman recorded that in its four years in office from 2014 to 2018, the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had authorized the import of 4.7 million tons of rice, 5.7 million tons of corn, 17.2 million tons of sugar and 12.3 million tons of salt.
“In this political year, attention to import administration might be lacking because of the intensity of the national political process,” Ombudsman member Alamsyah Saragih told reporters on Monday. “If we do not pay attention to it, it could lead to disadvantages for various stakeholders.”
Alamsyah said imports of corn, sugar and salt, which are meant for industrial purposes, had been increasing because industrial players were looking for better quality ingredients leading to price reductions for the commodities produced by local farmers.
“This year, industrial verification must be done thoroughly in order to avoid importing too much,” he said. “We encourage the government, especially the Industry Ministry, to verify industrial requirements and audit stocks of local supplies.”
Alamsyah also cited the plan by state-owned logistics company Bulog to export rice, which showed stocks were getting excessive as Bulog this year distributed less rice to poor families.
Last month, Bulog head Budi Waseso said the rice-export plan was being carried out to prevent stock overflows, with the domestic harvesting season coming in March to May. (bbn)