Jakarta (ANTARA) - Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan, on Monday, conducted a first-hand review of the stocks of rice at a modern retail market to ensure sufficient supplies and stable prices for the people.

"I checked (the stocks of) rice at a modern retail market," he remarked on the sidelines of his visit to a modern shopping center in Jakarta.

On the occasion, Hasan drew attention to an increase in the prices of premium-grade rice that had made some retailers refrain from selling such rice in stores. He pointed out that the prices had crossed the highest retail price (HET) determined by the government.

"Due to a surge in the prices of premium-grade rice, several modern retailers are reluctant to obtain the rice. However, some retailers are still accepting the rice and offering it at prices above the HET," he remarked.

The minister then vouched to identify the reason behind the price spike in order to devise accurate solutions.

As for now, he assessed that the increase in the prices of premium-grade rice had been closely related to a surge in demand amid declining supplies.

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Hasan then expressed belief that the global heat phenomenon El Nino had been the reason behind farmers postponing planting and harvesting periods, which, in turn, had led to a decrease in the supplies of rice.

In an effort to deal with the issue, he revealed that the government had decided to expedite the distribution of rice stocks stored by state-owned logistics company Bulog for the Food Supply and Price Stabilization (SPHP) Program.

"The government has decided to hasten the distribution of SPHP rice from Bulog," he emphasized.

Hasan, however, underscored that the selling volume of SPHP rice had increased significantly as a result of the increase in prices of premium-grade rice. The trend causes the supplies of SPHP rice to run out quickly in markets, he added.

Hence, to this end, he said the government would hold a meeting to increase the quantity of SPHP rice supplies.

Apart from inspecting rice stocks, Hasan also made the most of his visit to the retail market to check the availability of cooking oil.

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Translator: Muhammad H, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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