Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia will not import asphalt from 2024 as the domestic asphalt industry will be strengthened to supply domestic demand for road construction material, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has informed.

"We recently decided that there will be no more asphalt imports in two years. (Asphalt) must be produced in Buton (Southeast Sulawesi). State-owned enterprises, private companies, or foreign joint venture companies are all invited (to participate in the domestic asphalt industry)," the President said.

He made the statement after visiting PT Wika Bitumen’s asphalt factory in Buton, Southeast Sulawesi, in a message disseminated by the Presidential Secretariat on Tuesday.

Despite asphalt reserves in Buton reaching 662 million tons, Indonesia has continued to import up to five million tons of asphalt annually, he highlighted.

"We instead continue importing (the commodity) while neglecting our production here," the President said.

He then asked ministers to study the asphalt industry’s development in Buton to develop its downstream industries and create added value for asphalt.

"We want added value for asphalt in Buton because we have a huge 662 million tons potential here," Jokowi noted.

Moreover, the downstream asphalt industry in Buton could also help increase state and tax revenues, he added.

"We can obtain added value, taxes, royalties, dividends, employees' taxes all from here, hence, we hope Buton can have its asphalt production industry recover," he said.

According to the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry, asphalt from Buton, which is known as asbuton, has better quality and its utilization can help save foreign exchange by reducing high asphalt imports.

The use of asbuton could also support the domestic product utilization program as its domestic origin would increase a product's domestic component level.

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Translator: Indra Arief P, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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