govt opens rice import option

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government through the Ministry of Trade stated that it opened the option of importing special rice to strengthen the stock.

Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita asserted that if the imports is carried out by the government, then the rice to be imported is not that of the medium quality, but special rice and is done in an effort to strengthen government stock.

"Option of import is open, but I choose special rice only so that it would not harm our farmers and rice production," said Lukita, when met at his office in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The emergence of the rice import option is a response to the statement of Vice President Jusuf Kalla who asked state-logistics board Bulog to review rice import option to bring down rice prices at the consumer level. In recent times, the price of rice, especially that of the medium quality, has climbed and above the Highest Retail Price (HET) set by the government.

Based on data from Bulog, the current stock is approximately 950 thousand tons. Commercial rice stocks are only about 11 thousand tons, while cheap rice or rice assistance for the poor (rastra) is still declared safe is able to meet the needs of up to four months ahead.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla has asked for studies of import option of medium-grade rice to stabilize prices which continue to increase in the market.

"The import option is not prohibited but we asked that it should first be studied in case there is something necessary such as constant price increases that require immediate rice import," he told reporters at the Presidential Office on Tuesday.

The Vice President has earlier held a rice-related meeting with ministers and related officials.

The Vice President conveyed that response in relation to the continuing upward trend if rice price which has now reached more than Rp11,000 per kg, exceeding the highest retail price (HET) of Rp9.450 per kg.

The Basic Necessity Market Monitoring System (SP2KP) of the Trade Ministry, sees that the price of medium quality rice has continued to increase. On Sunday (Jan 7), the national average price of medium quality rice was Rp11,041 but on Monday it increased to Rp11,131 per kilogram and Tuesday it rose to Rp11,177 per kg.

The Vice President on the occasion asked state logistics board Bulog to conduct a massive market operation to curb the price increase.

Referring to the report of the Minister of Agriculture, Amran Sulaiman, according to Vice President, in January there will also be rice harvest for rice that was planted in October so that it will increase rice stock.

Source: ANTARA News

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