26 January 2011

This is how "Food Security" look like under imperialism

Government to lift import duties on staple foods

Jakarta Post - January 20, 2011

Esther Samboh, Jakarta -- The government will soon abolish import duties for 30 staple commodities starting from the end of this month amid rising concerns over a possible food supply shortage at home and surging food prices in the world market.

Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said Wednesday that the commodities included wheat, animal feed, fertilizer, soybean as well as many others.

"There will be a time frame for the scrapping of the import duties, so once global food prices have stabilized, there will be an evaluation as to when it would be revoked," Mari told reporters after a meeting at the Office of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy in Jakarta.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa said the Finance Ministry would issue a regulation on Thursday (today) on the abolishment of the import tariffs of these 13 commodities.

"The team has suggested 30 types of staple commodities that are all food-related. We want to safeguard the people's needs as well as the industries' at the same time," Hatta told reporters at the same event.

Mari added that the regulation would be similar to that in 2008, when the finance minister issued a new ruling to stabilize prices in the midst of surging food prices. The United Nation's food agency has said that food prices hit a new high last month, even higher than prices in 2008.

Surging food prices have resulted in mounting inflationary pressures, with headline inflation reaching a 20-month high of almost 7 percent in December mainly due to a nearly 18 percent spike in volatile food prices.

The government is also finalizing a presidential regulation on the procurement of fertilizers and seeds. "This is regulated in a presidential regulation to ensure food stocks and supply so that extreme weather will not delay planting season," he added.

Hatta has also said that the government would intensify market operations to ensure food stocks and supply as well as to stabilize prices. "Social security programs, rice subsidy and a low-cost market will be mobilized and intensified as soon as possible," he added.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Mustafa Abubakar urged state-owned enterprises to organize a low-cost market and sell staple foods at low prices in the hopes of stabilizing the surging food prices.

"There are a number of state firms spread throughout the archipelago. Their role in keeping prices stable has been effective, so we want to utilize them to sell rice, cooking oil, sugar and other staple food at low prices," he said, adding that he hoped the markets would open at the beginning of February at the latest.

Food security program

1. Abolishing import duties for 30 types of staple commodities such as wheat, animal feed and fertilizer.

2. Allocating Rp 3 trillion to mitigate impacts from climate change and to curb prices through market operations.

3. Procuring 1.5 million tons of rice through State Logistics Agency (Bulog), partly through imports.

4. Providing 1,000 dryers in rice production centers across the country.

5. Developing 2 million hectares of agricultural land in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Merauke (Papua).

6. Procuring fertilizer and seeds for farmers through a presidential regulation.

7. Giving Bulog flexibility to buy unhusked rice from farmers through a presidential regulation.

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