The rice import policy caused a heated conflict in the country. The intention is to want to strengthen stocks and reserves, rice imports are even considered redundant and do not need to be done.
Conflict is inevitable. The Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita and the Managing Director of the State Logistics Agency Budi Waseso threw different views on this policy.
Budi Waseso hopes that the government will no longer import rice until June 2019. He even considers that rice imports by the government are redundant.
Budi said, the amount of rice reserves and local production is still sufficient to meet public consumption. This is in accordance with the calculation of the Bulog's analysis team consisting of experts, relevant ministries and the National Logistics Agency.
The team analyzed the needs and conditions of national rice. "In fact, rice import reserves in Bulog may not be used," Budi said at a press conference at the headquarters of the State Logistics Agency, Jakarta, Wednesday (9/19).
The man who was familiarly called Buwas revealed that 1.4 million tons of imported rice had only been deposited in the Bulog warehouse. Because, Bulog's absorption from local farmers is still high and sufficient for market operations and the need for prosperous rice (rastra).
"It's useless (rice imports). Besides the high US dollar, the current conditions do not need to be imported. We have to be efficient so we don't waste it," he said.
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He detailed rice reserves in the Bulog warehouse to reach 2.4 million tons. This amount does not include imported rice which will enter in October amounting to 400 thousand tons. So, he said, Bulog's total rice reserves were 2.8 million tons.
Of the total reserves, Bulog calculated that the need for rastra would only be 100 thousand tons. Thus, the total rice stock in the Bulog warehouse until the end of December 2018 amounted to 2.7 million tons.
If coupled with domestic grain uptake of 4,000 tons per day in the dry season, Buwas estimates the final stock can reach 3 million tons. "I don't want to be polemic anymore or not import. Because there is no need to import the analysis, the need until June 2019 is safe," Buwas said.
Buwas said that the data on Indonesia's rice needs of 2.4 to 2.7 million tons per month needed to be questioned. From these data, it was noted that everyone consumed 130 kg of rice per year. The data, according to Buwas, became ambiguous and resulted in the assumption that rice needs were more than they should.
The problem is, said Buwas, the data on rice consumption does not specify age so that babies are also counted as residents who consume rice. "Being hit flat, the assumption is 2.7 million tons. Finally, our production is always calculated as never enough," he said.
Buwas hopes that the government can put a brake on rice imports, moreover Indonesia's trade balance is still in deficit due to higher import value than exports. Therefore, Buwas does not agree if there is an increase in rice imports because it is not in accordance with the wishes of the government that wants to suppress imports.
"The dollar is high. Rice imports can drain the country's foreign exchange," he said