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Salt price shoots up as markets run short of stock

The markets in various parts of the country are running short of consumer salt stock, causing the price of the commodity to shoot up over the past few days.

In Jakarta for example, the price of a small pack of salt which was usually sold at Rp2 thousand rose to Rp5 thousand at Gondangdia Market in Central Jakarta on Tuesday. “Last month, the price of the relatively larger pack was Rp30 thousand but now it is sold at Rp50 thousand,” Aceng, a trader, said on Tuesday.

The rising prices and scarcity of stock of salt took place not only in Jakarta but almost in all provinces. Therefore, a legislator has called on the government to interfere in solving the problems of the salt crisis in the country.

The government should take actions and investigate the causes of the salt crisis. “I think, this is part of our carelessness or inability to maximize the potentials that we have,” legislator Siti Mukromah who is a member of Commission VI of the House of Representatives (DPR) said in Purwokerto, Banyumas District, Central Java, on Wednesday.

Logically, Indonesia should never run short of salt but adversely it happens now as the commodity is difficult to find in the market with normal prices. If the exploration and exploitation of salt are carried out, a crisis like now should not happen, according to Mukromah.

Secretary General of the Indonesian Salt Consumer Industry Association (AIPGI), Cucu Sutara, said recently in Bandung, West Java, that the need for salt in Indonesia in 2017 reached 4.2 million tons.

He said that the need for consumer salt per annum is about 750 thousand tons while for industrial salt is recorded at three million tons a year.

However, salt farmers last year failed to yield maximally last year due to the La Nina weather phenomenon. Thus, the need for salt in 2017 could not be met with the production of farmers in 2016 which stood only about 144 thousand tons. National salt stock until January was only about 112,671 tons.

Hence, the government is now trying to ease the importation of salt in order to overcome shortage of salt, particularly industrial salt, in the country. The problem is that imported industrial salt has always been suspected to be leaked to the consumer market that harmed the interest of domestic salt farmers.

Thus, salt importers are required to obtain recommendations from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry (KKP) before they could obtained salt import permits from the Trade Ministry. Based on Law No. 7 of 2016 on Protection and Empowerment of Fishermen, Fish Breeders and Salt Farmers, a recommendation from the KKP must be obtained to import industrial and consumer salt.

To overcome the problem, Vice President Jusuf Kalla, on July 14 held a meeting with Chief Economic Minister Darmin Nasution, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita, Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto, and KKP Minister Susi Pudjiastuti to discuss the issue of industrial salt.

One of the results of the meeting is that the Trade Ministry will no longer need a recommendation from the KKP before it can issue a license to industries to import industrial salt as part of the efforts to cope with the shortage of industrial salt.

To this purpose, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) will issue a ministerial regulation that will no longer make it necessary to obtain a recommendation in order to import salt.

“The KKP will issue a regulation where the importation of industrial salt will no longer need a recommendation from us,” KKP Minister Pudjiastuti was quoted as saying by Tempo.Co. on Saturday (July 15).

The KKP minister said her ministry will discuss various matters with the Trade Ministry, the harmonized system for the importation of industrial salt, so that its imports would remain under control. The new regulations will also be temporarily effective. They are made to cope with the shortage of salt that causes the price to rise.

In the meantime, Trade Minister Lukita said his ministry had issued licenses to 26 companies doing business in various industrial fields, such as pharmacies, chlor alkali plant (CAP), and paper industries to import industrial salt.

It is forecast that the annual demand of the salt industry reaches 2.3 million tons. Indonesia still depends on imports to meet its need since domestic salt production is not yet adequate.

Trade Ministrys Director for import affairs Veri Anggriono said the demand for industrial salt by CAP industries this year is estimated to reach 2.2 million tons. CAP industries will obtain permits first for the importation of industrial salt.

“The Ministry of Trade will provide import permits for CAP industries first. Food and other industries are still under process,” she was quoted by mediaindonesia.com as saying.

Data with the state-owned salt company, PT Garam, showed that the national demand for salt has reached 4.04 million tons per annum comprising 1.3 million tons of consumer salt and 2.74 million tons of industrial salt.

Of the salt imported for industry, 2.14 million tons was for chemical industry (CAP), one thousand tons for pharmacies, and 40 thousand tons for oil mining.

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