Ahad , 02 Februari 2014, 10:31 WIB

Stop blaming each other on illegal rice import: Gerindra

Red: Julkifli Marbun
Republika/Adhi Wicaksono
Gita Wirjawan
Gita Wirjawan

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA -- Gerindra party asks government institutions to stop faulting each other over "illegal" imports of rice from Vietnam.

Gerindra party general chairman Suhardi said the government should immediately investigate the alleged rice import, "instead of allowing its institutions to blame each other."

Gita Wirijawan, before he tender his resignation as a trade minister on Friday said the ministry had licensed imports of rice of premium category on recommendation from the agriculture ministry.

"The trade ministry only followed the recommendation from the agriculture ministry," Gita said.

The agriculture ministry, however, strongly denied having given recommendation for rice imports.

Agriculture Minister H. Suswono said there was no such recommendation and challenged Gita to back up his statement.

In addition, the imported rice from Vietnam turnout to be of medium category, the kind for consumption of the majority of the people.

Only the state run Board of Logistics (Bulog) is allowed to import rice of medium category.

Bulog chief executive Sutarto Alimoeso said it had no recent imports of rice from Vietnam.

Suhardi said the country did not need rice import, adding harvest was good, and rice stocks are enough for 8 months.

The report about rice imports have attracted wide attentions, and drawn protest as it would hurt rice farmers.

The controversy heated up especially as it was followed with the resignation of Gita.

Observers tied the imports to forthcoming elections.

Economist Rizal Ramli said he was confident Gita was not involved in the illegal imports.

"I was sure Gita is clean, but I suspect the people around him," he said.

However, lawmaker from the House Commission IV Firman Subagyo said Gita as the number one in his ministry was responsible for the illegal imports.

Explaining reason for his resignation Gita said he wanted to concentrate on his bid to win a convention held by the ruling party to select a candidate for July's presidential election.

Gita is one of the contestant in the convention.

The government said it would questioned 58 importers involved in the rice imports from Vietnam.

Sumber : Antara