Bekasi (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), on Friday, claimed that Indonesia is the only country whose government provides free rice to its people under a food assistance program.

Jokowi made the statement while participating in the distribution of food assistance in the form of the government's rice reserves at a warehouse of state-run logistics firm Bulog in Bekasi, West Java Province.

"No other country provides rice assistance like our country does. We have already calculated the capacity of our APBN (State Budget)," he said in his remarks while adding that the APBN suffices for implementation of the assistance program.

He then underscored that a state's functions encompass providing the required aid in the event of surging prices of staple food commodities, such as rice, as was the case in Indonesia.

Hence, to this end, Jokowi noted that the government had prepared rice stocks to be distributed to millions of people as food assistance up until June 2024.

The head of state acknowledged that 10 kilograms of rice aid for each beneficiary family might not suffice. However, he expressed belief that the assistance would be helpful for its beneficiaries, regardless of the amount.

"I am fully aware that the amount might not be adequate. Nevertheless, this assistance should be helpful," he stated.

Jokowi assured that the government would extend the distribution period beyond June if the capacity of the APBN still permits.

"We will see if the government can continue the program by initially assessing the APBN. However, I can assure you that the distribution will run until June," he told the aid beneficiaries.

Earlier, on Thursday (February 15), the president stated that the rice aid serves as a means to control prices of the commodity in the market, noting that the current surging prices were unrelated to the provision of the assistance.

"(The increase in rice prices) has nothing to do with rice aid because this (rice assistance) controls (the price), instead," he remarked after inspecting rice stocks at the Cipinang Central Market, Jakarta.

He assessed that the rice shortage and rise in the commodity's prices have been related to disruptions to distribution from rice-producing regions that were caused by several factors, including floods in the districts of Demak and Grobogan in Central Java.

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Translator: Rangga P, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Tia Mutiasari
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