Jakarta (ANTARA) - The National Food Agency (Bapanas) has said that rice will continue to be distributed under the Food Supply and Price Stabilization (SPHP) program even though the government has suspended the provision of food assistance.

Under the SPHP program, rice is being sold at relatively cheaper prices of Rp10,900 (around US$0.70) per kilogram in Zone 1, Rp11,500 (around US$0.73) per kilogram in Zone 2, and Rp11,800 (around US$0.75) per kilogram in Zone 3.

Bapanas head Arief Prasetyo Adi, in a written statement received from the agency here on Thursday, said that the program must be continued to meet people's needs as well as to ensure the availability of rice stocks in markets.

"Other efforts for food supply and price stabilization still continue to be made because rice needed in one month by the Indonesian people is 2.6 million tons," he added.

Adi affirmed that there are no political interests behind the SPHP program and food assistance provided by his agency.

He said that the programs are intended to serve as a financial cushion for people from the lower-middle class.

"For the SPHP, the distribution target this year is 1.2 million tons, and in the packaging, there are the logos of Bapanas and Perum Bulog (State Logistics Agency). Therefore, the community can supervise that this rice is the government's rice," he added.

The Bapanas head stated that the SPHP rice has contributed to the national economy and helped maintain inflation at a low level, namely 2.57 percent, as well as supported the lower-middle class people's purchasing power to buy rice.

Earlier on Wednesday (February 7, 2024), Adi said that the distribution of rice assistance will be temporarily suspended from February 8–14 to respect and support the election stages.

According to him, the suspension, which has been applied ahead of the election silence period and voting day, also signifies that there has been no politicization of the assistance program.

Indonesia will hold the General Elections on February 14, 2024, in which around 204.8 million voters are expected to participate. The campaigning period for the elections started on November 28, 2023, and will end on February 10, 2024.

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Translator: Ahmad Muzdaffar, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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