Total rice import equal to weekly consumption: VP

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The total volume of rice that the Indonesian government will import from Vietnam and Thailand is equal to weekly rice consumption nationwide, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said.

"Dont forget that our monthly rice consumption is 2.5 million tons. So, the rice import is only for one-week consumption. But we must increase and strengthen our stock," he said at the Vice Presidential Office here on Monday.

The government must take import policy when the domestic rice stock is less than one million tons, he said.

Although the country will enter grand harvest in March, the government dare not take a risk of declining domestic rice stock, he said.

"Hence, to strengthen the rice stock of Bulog (the National Logistics Agency), our rice stock must not be below one million tons in any situation. With a population of more than 200 million, importing rice is the fastest way to increase (rice stock)," he said.

In March 2015, Vice President Jusuf Kalla summoned a number of ministers and the chief of the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) to test data of Indonesian peoples rice consumption.

Based on the result of a meeting and tryout, the government obtained per capita rice consumption at 114 kilograms per year. This means that with a population of around 260 million, the national rice consumption is 28 million tons per year.

The vice president said last Friday (Jan 12) the Indonesian government plans to import 500 thousand tons of rice due to the declining supply in the domestic market.

"We have a reference price. If (the rice price) is above the reference price, then Bulog must sell (its rice). But because the stocks are declining, Bulog must import rice first and later sell it. If the price falls, it must buy rice to push up the price. Thats the system," Kalla explained after inaugurating the executive board of the Indonesian Mosque Council at the Istiqlal Mosque here.

The decline in domestic rice stocks is a result of, among other reasons, the weather phenomenon, which has led to inadequate rice production, he noted.

Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said the government will not be using the state funds (APBN) for the import of 500 thousand tons of rice from Vietnam and Thailand. "Of course, we will not use APBN funds. PPI (PT Perusahan Perdagangan Indonesia) is serving as a gateway so that we can control it," he stressed.

The decision to import rice from Vietnam and Thailand was made after the government launched market operations from November to December 2017 to stabilize rice prices.

Source: ANTARA News

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