In an interesting development and what could be well translated as a compulsive uncomfortable decision in principle, especially on the heels of free trade talks with the US, Indonesia has decided to relax rice import bans. The decision is one of the several measures undertaken by the Indonesian government to control rising prices of rice for the next few years until its domestic productivity is increased to meet demand. As a better fact, the rice prices have shot menacingly by more than 10 percent this year and now it is hovering around 17 percent higher than the government’s desired price level. Therefore, to check the increasing rice price, Indonesia has decided to import 500,000 tonnes from foreign markets. Earlier, the government had decided that no rice would be imported after the annual yield, which was scheduled in February but delayed owing to bad weather for another few weeks. The government has said that it is also planning to buy another 500,000 tonnes rice. The Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla has linked this decisions to recent storms and floods that tattered large tracks of the country. However, he maintained that this decision should not be linked with government’s basic policies and there will no reversal of venerable ban on rice imports. The World Bank had suggested Indonesia to import around 2 million tones of rice a year to bridge the production shortfall in order to keep the staple affordable to people. According to a report on poverty, the bank had outlined that almost 63 percent farmers are net rice consumers and the incessantly rising prices of rice contributed greatly to rising poverty, which has raised its head first time in six years.
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