Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), on Thursday, visited Merdeka Market, Samarinda, East Kalimantan, saying that the market is selling staple commodities at stable prices.

"Based on my review, the prices have been well-controlled. I am happy about that," the president remarked after reviewing the prices of staple goods in the market.

Moreover, Jokowi noted that the prices of some staple commodities in the market, such as chili, garlic, and shallots, had declined.

"The prices of chili, garlic, and also shallots have declined," he pointed out.

However, the head of state said that rice in the market was still priced high while noting that state-owned logistics company Bulog had begun distributing rice from the Food Supply and Price Stabilization (SPHP) Program to the market in order to lower the price.

"Let us hope that the market operation held by Bulog will help lower the price of rice," President Jokowi remarked.

He stated that El Nino, which is currently affecting seven provinces in Indonesia, was causal to the high price of rice since the phenomenon had led to a decrease in rice supply from farmers.

In order to address the issue, he said, the government is importing rice to boost the country's rice reserves.

"We are opting for imports (of rice) to strengthen the strategic reserve and cover the production shortfalls," he affirmed.

Niko, a merchant at the Merdeka Market, confirmed that the price of premium-quality rice had indeed increased. However, the SPHP rice aid from Bulog has been helpful in lowering the price, he added.

"The price of premium rice has indeed increased, but the price has started declining owing to SPHP rice from Bulog," he remarked.

In addition to reviewing the prices of staple goods, President Jokowi made the most of his visit to the market to personally greet merchants and distribute cash aid to them.

State Secretary Minister Pratikno, Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia, East Kalimantan Governor Isran Noor, and Samarinda Mayor Andi Harun accompanied the president during his visit to the Merdeka Market.

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Translator: Rangga P, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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