Jakarta (ANTARA) - The government is committed to continuing the distribution of food aid by utilizing its rice reserves until June 2024 after an election pause from February 8–14, Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan has said.

"While handing out food aid from the government's rice reserves, Mr. President emphasized that the government will continue to distribute rice aid until June this year," he noted in Jakarta.

He made the statement after accompanying President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) for the distribution of rice assistance in Bekasi district, West Java, on Friday.

The minister said that the government initially assessed the capacity of the state budget (APBN) before proceeding with the aid distribution.

As for rice assistance distribution after June, he informed that the government will again evaluate the APBN before making a decision.

"We will assess the condition of the APBN," he said.

Currently, the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) still has around 1.4 million tons of rice in stock, which will be distributed to beneficiaries under a food aid program as well as the Food Supply and Price Stabilization (SPHP) program.

Earlier, on the sidelines of a dialogue with participants of the Prosperous Family's Economy (Mekaar) Program in Bekasi, President Widodo assured that Indonesia has secured ample stocks of rice for the Ramadan month, which is expected to fall between March and April this year.

"There are no problems with the stocks. Based on my first-hand review, the stocks are abundant," he said.

Widodo reiterated that the government has taken several measures to ensure the equitable distribution of rice stocks to markets so that all people get sufficient quantities of the staple commodity.

"The most important thing is to identify ways to properly distribute rice to markets and the people. This is not an easy task," he said.

He then expressed optimism that his administration will successfully deal with the issue, considering that the government has managed to secure and distribute rice stocks uniformly for Ramadan every year.

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Translator: Maria Cicilia, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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