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Indonesia: Watchdog aims to abolish cattle import quotas to fight cartels

 |  June 30, 2016

Indonesia’s anti-monopoly agency has proposed abolishing a cattle import quota system and replacing it with tariffs, in a bid to break the stranglehold of local cartels blamed for surging beef prices, its chief told Reuters.

President Joko Widodo, who came to power two years ago in large part thanks to his image as a man of the people, has come under fire after beef prices shot up ahead of the Muslim celebration to mark the end of the fasting month in early July.

Widodo had told local media that he wants fresh beef to cost around 80,000 rupiah ($6) per kg, but the current market price is up to 50 percent higher. On Wednesday, thousands of people lined up to buy government-subsidized beef at a district in North Jakarta.

Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, imports virtually all of its cattle from Australia – a trade that was worth nearly $600 million in the last financial year. The agriculture ministry is, however, trying to curb imports as part of a national push for domestic self-sufficiency.

“The limit on imports is causing a lack of supply because it’s not balanced with the growth of the local cattle population,” Syarkawi Rauf, the head of the Indonesian Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU), said in an interview.

“The beef prices become even more excessive because there are people who take advantage of that government policy,” said Rauf, an economist who took the top position at the independent watchdog less than a year ago.

Full Content: Reuters

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