Rice imports based on detailed analysis and studies: lawmaker

Jakarta (ANTARA News) – A lawmaker said the decision on rice import, which has triggered controversy, was based on detailed analysis and study by the government.

“The decision to import rice was made not without a study,” Hamdhani, a member of the Commission V of the House of Representatives said here on Saturday.

The controversy, first triggered by split of opinions between government officials over the need for imports, was fanned into public debate by politicians and government critics.

Critics said the government imported rice when the surplus was abundant resulting in the farmer in difficulty to dispose of their surplus.

Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita defended the government policy saying imports is needed to guarantee enough stock in anticipation of shortfall in domestic supply.

Head of the Board of Logistic Budi Waseso and Agriculture Minister Andi Amran were against imports.

Hamdani said the decision was made not by the Trade Minister alone but it was decision at a coordination meeting under the Coordinating Minister for Economy Darmin Nasution also signed by the Bulog chief and the Agriculture Minister.

The import decision was to maintain stock to keep inflation under control especially as the Agriculture Minister had said that food crop farms were shrinking in size.

Head of the Presidential Staff Moeldoko, who is also the general chairman of the Indonesian Association of Farmers(HKTI), said there was no cause for making a big issue of the ricer import.

“One of my feet is in HKTI, and one with the government. I have to explain especially to farmers, that we have to import rice to keep the price stable,” Moeldoko told reporters in Surabaya, on Thursday.

Moeldoko said whether it is necessary to import rice depends on the condition of stock held by Bulog.

In separate place, Coordinating Minister Darmin Nasution said he would invite the Trade Minister and the Bulog chief and the Agriculture Minister to a meeting in a bid to end the polemic on rice import.

“Certainly I would bring them together. I am looking the right time,” Darmin said

Darmin said he hoped that after the meeting there would be confirmation that the rice import policy was approved at an earlier meeting .

He said the decision to import rice was made in the third quarter of 2017 when rice price was rising and Bulog stock was only 978,000 tons as against the countrys monthly requirement of around 2.3 million-2.4 million tons.

Source: ANTARA News