Jakarta (ANTARA) - Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi has said that his ministry is working with the Air Force to distribute cooking oil in several regions in eastern Indonesia to address a shortage in the availability of the commodity.

"We have collaborated with the Air Force to transport cooking oil in C-130 Hercules aircraft to eastern Indonesia regions on Monday and Tuesday. This collaboration is to ensure residents remain restful as they would get the cooking oil within the price permitted by the government," Lutfi informed in a statement issued in Jakarta on Monday.

In the first phase of distribution, the Indonesian Air Force will transport 52,800 liters of cooking oil to major cities in Papua, such as Sorong, Merauke, and Jayapura, the minister said.

The cooking oil will then be sold under three price slabs (per liter): Rp11,500 (US$0.85) for bulk oil, Rp13,500 (US$0.945) for oil sold in simple packaging, and Rp14,000 (US$0.98) for oil sold in premium packaging, the minister explained.

Modern retailers and traditional merchants will be required to sell the cooking oil within the price set by the government, he added.

Lutfi further said that the ministry had asked major cooking oil producers to supply cooking oil in simple and premium packages for distribution by the Air Force to eastern Indonesian regions, and the producers have responded to the request in the affirmative.

"The Air Force is committed to helping the people by assisting in cooking oil distribution to several distributors in the eastern Indonesian region. I instruct distributors and agents who have received the cooking oil to promptly distribute the commodity to traditional markets to ensure residents can get the cooking oil they urgently need," the minister added.

The minister said that cooking oil producers such as KPN Corporation has agreed to send 13,200 liters of cooking oil from Surabaya to Sorong, while Wilmar will dispatch 13,200 liters of cooking oil from Surabaya to Jayapura.

Moreover, edible oil manufacturer Musim Mas has agreed to send 13,200 liters of cooking oil from Surabaya and Merauke, and Apical company 13,200 liters from Jakarta to Sorong, he added.

The synergy with the Indonesian Air Force is part of the government's concrete step for addressing cooking oil scarcity in the country, Lutfi said.

The minister also lauded private companies who have pledged their support for replenishing cooking oil stocks while affirming that similar collaborations would be continued in the future, if needed.

"I laud the Indonesian Air Force and cooking oil producers for committing to assist the government in addressing the cooking oil scarcity in several regions, particularly in eastern Indonesia. I believe this issue would be resolved soon, and our common conscience is needed to help the people get their basic needs at an affordable price," Lutfi said.

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Translator: Sella Panduarsa G, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Sri Haryati
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