The Jakarta Post
State-owned pharmaceutical company PT Kimia Farma has limited the number of masks and hand sanitizer available for purchase at its 1,300 stores nationwide to ensure the products’ availability in the long run amid panic buying prompted by the COVID-19 spread in Indonesia.
"Kimia Farma carried out the measure starting Jan. 10 to anticipate the coronavirus outbreak,” State-owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir said during a site visit to a Kimia Farma outlet in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday. “I have checked that both masks and hand sanitizer are available in Kimia Farma stores but they have started to limit the products.”
Erick said he wanted to make sure that stores do not inflate the price of the products.
Panic buying has triggered a price surge for the items both online and offline in the last two days. A box of face masks now selling for an average of Rp 300,000 (US$ 21) – a whopping 1,500 percent increase from the original average of Rp 20,000 per box.
Following the rationing action, one person can only buy two masks at Kimia Farma outlets at a price point of Rp 2,000 per piece and a 500-ml bottle of antiseptic gel at a price of Rp 50,200 per bottle.
Kimia Farma president director Verdi Budidarmo said the company had 4,000 boxes or 215,000 masks, adding that it had ordered more.
"We are currently ordering as many as 7.2 million masks for future needs," said Verdi.
Masks and hand sanitizers are among the most-sought after items in the country. Customers have been swarming supermarkets and drugstores following President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo's announcement of the country's first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
Erick called on the private sector to participate in maintaining the stock and availability of masks and hand sanitizer in the market by not hoarding goods or trying to mark up the prices amid the increasing demand.