Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo held a meeting with several cabinet ministers on Monday to discuss the continuation of the Certain Price of Natural Gas (HGBT) policy.

"We discuss gas prices," Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said in a brief response to reporters' questions at the Pesidential Palace, offering no further details.

Other ministers spotted attending the meeting included Minister of Industry Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) Arifin Tasrif, and Deputy Minister of Finance Suahasil Nazara.

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) previously announced the government's plan to evaluate the natural gas price policy.

Rizal Fajar Muttaqin, an official at the ministry, stated in June that a comprehensive evaluation would be completed by August.

"The President will make the final decision regarding the policy's continuation," he remarked.

He explained that the evaluation would focus on the HGBT policy's impact on state revenue.

The ESDM Ministry reported a decline of Rp23.39 trillion (around US$1.4 billion) in state revenue following the policy's implementation during the 2021-2022 period.

Launched in 2020, the HGBT policy offers subsidized natural gas at US$6 per MMBTU (Million British Thermal Unit) to seven industries: fertilizer, petrochemical, steel, ceramic, glass, oleochemical, and rubber. This pricing will remain valid until December 31.

In May, ESDM Minister Tasrif expressed the government's intention to extend the policy.

Meanwhile, Industry Minister Kartasasmita proposed expanding the HGBT program to encompass 24 industries.

He argued that expanding the policy would not disrupt the State Budget nor lead to a decline in state revenue. He pointed out that the industry sector consumes only 30 percent of the total national gas supply.

Kartasasmita further emphasized the policy's benefits for Indonesian industries, highlighting a threefold increase in economic value.

"The HGBT policy has demonstrably benefited the seven targeted industries, with exports, investment, and workforce absorption all tripling since its implementation," he remarked in March.

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Translator: Mentari D, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Anton Santoso
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