Jakarta (ANTARA) - Head of the National Food Agency (Bapanas), Arief Prasetyo Adi, emphasized that the retail price ceiling (HET) of rice has an important role as an indicator for the government to formulate food policies.

Adi made the statement as a response to the recommendation from the Indonesian Ombudsman to remove HET for rice, as it is deemed ineffective in maintaining the stability of rice prices.

"How could it be removed? The HET for rice or other commodities is important because that is the government's indicator in making food policies," he stated while reviewing rice supplies at the Cipinang Central Rice Market here on Wednesday.

Adi noted that the government was careful and carried out detailed calculations, from mapping the production costs of farmers to affordability for people of each region before implementing the HET for rice.

The HET applies to medium-quality and premium-quality rice, and the implementation is divided into three zones.

For zone I, namely Java, Lampung, South Sumatra, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, and Sulawesi, the HET for medium-quality rice is Rp10,900 per kilogram, while the HET for premium-quality rice is Rp13,900 per kilogram.

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In zone II, covering Sumatra, except Lampung and South Sumatra, East Nusa Tenggara, and Kalimantan, the HET is Rp11,500 per kilogram for medium-quality rice and Rp14,400 per kilogram for premium-quality rice.

As for zone III, namely Maluku and Papua, the HET is Rp11,800 per kilogram for medium-quality rice and Rp14,800 per kilogram for premium-quality rice.

According to Adi, when the price of rice in a certain region increases above the HET, then in order to stabilize it, the government immediately implements several food assistance programs.

He cited as an example the State Logistics Agency's (Bulog's) program of providing the Food Supply and Price Stabilization (SPHP) rice.

On that occasion, the Bapanas head also encouraged all parties to understand that it was quite challenging to stabilize rice prices amid the extreme dry season in the country that is caused by the El Nino phenomenon.

Nevertheless, he affirmed that it is part of the government's commitment. Apart from implementing HET, the government has increased the government purchasing price (HPP) for buying unhusked rice from farmers, from initially Rp4,200 per kilogram to Rp5,000 per kilogram.

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Translator: M Riezko, Raka Adji
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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