Govt to issue salt import permits late February

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government will issue permits for the import of consumer salt at the end of February after assessing the existing domestic stock, an official said.

"We will issue import permits only after salt stocks held by farmers and traders can be inspected," Director General of Foreign Trade at the Trade Ministry Deddy Saleh said here on Friday.

The government would only allow salt imports this year before the salt harvest time arrived, he said.

It would also make sure that no salt would be imported one month before the 2012 salt grand harvest, he said.

"If the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency can ensure that the harvest time will start in July, we will stop (salt imports). But if it goes on beyond that we can extend the import permits to meet the needs until July," he said.

He said the government decided to allow consumption salt imports on the grounds that the salt stocks which stood at 306,000 tons at the end of December 2011 were not enough to meet the needs until the salt harvest time arrived.

According to domestic salt output which reached 1.1 million tons last year, salt imports are projected to reach 900,000 tons.

"If the consumption salt needs reach 120,000 tons per month, the existing stocks of 306,000 tons will only be enough to meet the needs until the middle of March," he said.

Normally, salt harvest time started in July and grand harvest time in August, he said.

Judging by the conditions, the government would allow salt imports to meet the needs from January to June, he said.

The government must issue permits for the import of about 500,000 tons of consumption salt to meet the needs for 4.5 months, he said. (*)