Rice Import; Ombudsman Spots Potential Maladministration

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Laila Afifa

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  • Rice loading and unloading activities at the Cipinang Rice Main Market, Jakarta, Monday, March 8, 2021. The import allocation is divided into 500,000 tons for Government Rice Reserve (CBP) and 500,000 tons according to Bulog's needs. Tempo / Tony Hartawan

    Rice loading and unloading activities at the Cipinang Rice Main Market, Jakarta, Monday, March 8, 2021. The import allocation is divided into 500,000 tons for Government Rice Reserve (CBP) and 500,000 tons according to Bulog's needs. Tempo / Tony Hartawan

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Indonesian Ombudsman on Wednesday’s press conference announced that it found potential maladministration in the country’s 1.5 million tons rice import scheme. Member of the Ombudsman, Yeka Hendra Fatika, stated that the signs were evident in the decision making during a meeting with the Coordinating Ministry for Economics Affairs, Trade Ministry, and Agriculture Ministry.

    Fatika explained that the rice import plan was pitched without considering the data provided by the Statistics Indonesia (BPS), rice supply in the field, and the stability of the commodity’s value in the last three years. 

    The Ombudsman asserted that decision-makers tend to hurry the plan and seem to set aside scientific data. 

    “We fear that there could be a problem. Deciding to import rice must be based on valid data as rice is not only a commodity but it also has a broad socio political impact,” said Yeka Hendra Fatika in the video conference on March 24.

    The Trade Ministry’s data as per March 14, revealed that Bulog warehouses had rice supplies up to 883,585 tons. Of the amount, 859,000 tons are government supplies while 23.7,000 tons are commercial supplies. 

    The ministry said 400,000 tons of rice may potentially face quality deterioration since it was in-stock in 2018 and 2019. That's the reason why they deemed the suitable and edible rice supplies would only amount to 500,000 tons or 20 percent of the average monthly rice needs. 

    However, the Ombudsman reminded the Ministry that the current supply of rice is not only in Bulog warehouses. “Don’t forget there are other locations,” said Yeka. 

    In response, the trade minister asserted that the rice import scheme was his idea and responsibility. “If there are differences, ask me. Don’t blame the coordinating minister for economic affairs, agriculture minister, or even Bulog. I am the one who is responsible as I requested the meeting to discuss rice supplies,” said Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi.  

    Read: Trade Minister Ensures No Rice Imports during Great Harvest

    FRANCISCA CHRISTY ROSANA