Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Trade Ministry has not yet issued any permit for the importation of premium rice for 2014 rice allocation.

"No permit has been issued so far," Trade Deputy Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi stated during a discussion with journalists here on Friday.

Bayu also pointed out that his ministry will, in the near future, issue a Trade Ministers regulation on rice importation which will be aimed at tightening the importation of rice, particularly premium rice.

"We will review and improve the old regulation. We hope that with the new trade ministers regulation the system will work properly," the Deputy Trade Minister noted.

Bayu stressed that in the ministers regulation that will be issued, any permit to import rice will still need recommendations from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Recently, the government suspected that a violation with regard to rice import permit had taken place, particularly with the importation of 32 containers of 800 tons of rice from Vietnam.

"If administrative violation is proven, then we will revoke the importers permits and include them on the black list. If it is proven that there was smuggling involved, then it will be dealt with the smuggling crime," the Deputy Trade Minister stressed.

The trade ministry has also proposed that the HS code of rice import should be changed following a suspicion on the abuse of rice import permits.

Medium and premium rice have the same HS import code, namely 1006.30.99.00, except the ThaiHomali type of rice, which has its own HS code of 1006.30.40.00.

Medium rice can only be imported by state-owned logistics board Bulog, while Premium rice can be imported by licensed importers, but only for certain markets such as restaurants. However, with the same HS code, import permits for premium rice can be abused by importers to import medium rice that could flood the domestic markets.

Late last month, Chief Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa ordered the Trade Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry to investigate an alleged illegal entry of Vietnamese rice into Indonesia.

The minister was responding to a report on illegal rice imports discovered at the Cipinang wholesale market, East Jakarta, noting that the price of the illegal rice was less expensive than the price of farmers rice.

It was also reported that the Vietnamese rice was brought into the country using legal documents from the Directorate General of External Trade of the Ministry of Trade.

Hatta stressed that the government had never issued a permit for individuals to import rice. Therefore, he was convinced that the rice that came from Vietnam had been imported illegally.

The government has only issued a license for rice imports to state-owned logistics board Bulog as a market price stabilizer.

Bulog was assigned by the government to import rice or to purchase it from farmers to guarantee proper rice stocks in storage.

"The license to import rice will be issued for Bulog only, except for the importation of certain types of rice for foreigners and others. It is Bulog that has the authority to import it," the minister reiterated.

The Indonesian customs authorities investigated the alleged abuse of permits to import Vietnamese rice, which had sparked a debate at the Cipinang wholesale market in East Jakarta.

However, Director General of Customs and Excise Susiwijono Moegiarso stated that the import of 16.9 thousand tons of rice complied with standard procedures and rules, as well as having been given import approvals, surveyors reports and automated reconciliation from the Indonesian National Single Window portal.

However, he did not rule out the possibility of the import permits being abused on the grounds that the permits included written approvals intended to import special rice, instead of general rice, which can be imported by state logistics board Bulog.

"This has happened as the HS codes of the two types of rice are the same: 1006.30.99.00. The Directorate General of Customs and Excise is investigating the alleged abuse of the import permits, including the audit of the surveyors reports," he explained.

Last year, the Ministry of Trade issued a permit to import 16.9 thousand tons of special rice, consisting of 1,845 tons of the Basmati variety and 14,997 tons of the Japonica variety.



Editor: Suryanto
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