"I assure that until June, 2021, no imported rice will enter our country," the President said in a video uploaded through the Youtube channel of the Presidential Secretariat on Friday.
Several parties including secretary general of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), Hasto Kristiyanto, had objected to the government's plan to import 1 million tons of rice.
Hasto had argued that the rice import would only benefit foreign farmers.
"We know that almost in the past three years we have not imported rice,” the President said.
He admitted that there have been agreements with Thailand and Vietnam for the import of rice.
“It will merely serve as standby stock on account of the pandemic, which is full of uncertainty. I stress once again the rice has not entered (Indonesia),” he said.
He also assured that the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) will absorb farmer's rice. He said he has instructed Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati to help provide budget funds for the purchase of rice from farmers.
“I know that we are entering the harvest time and the price of farmer's rice is lower than expected. Therefore, I call for (an immediate halt to) the debate on the import of rice, which can cause the price of farmer's rice to fall or plummet,” he said.
Earlier, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto had hinted that the import of 1 million tons of rice in 2021 was under discussion. Of the total, 500 thousand tons were to be earmarked for the government's rice reserves and 500 thousand tons to meet Bulog's needs.
Rice stocks need to be maintained since the government requires large quantities of rice for social assistance during public activity restrictions (PPKM), he said. (INE)
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