JAKARTA, July 13 (UPI) -- Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhono criticized government officials for not doing more to stabilize rising food prices.
The Indonesian Merchants Association said food prices are rising for a number of reasons, including the recent subsidized fuel price hike, the seasonal increase in demand during Ramadan and slow production due to bad weather, the Jakarta Globe reported Saturday.
"Actually production is enough to meet national demand. But with demands surging there could be hoarding by businesses and middlemen. I want the government to be stringent on this issue, because the monitoring of [food] distribution is seriously lacking," said Abdullah Mansuri, the association's chairman.
Yudhono admitted the government response has been slow, but put blame on Agriculture Minister Suswono, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan and State Logistic Agency (Bulog) chief Sutarto Alimoeso.
"My instructions were clear, so were the Vice President's [Boediono] and the Economic Minister's [Hatta Rajasa] but the implementation has been slow," Yudhono said during a meeting at Halim Perdanakusuma airport, East Jakarta, shortly after arriving from a visit to West Nusa Tenggara. "Have you people seen the situation in the markets? Mr. Agriculture Minister, Mr. Bulog chief, Mr. Trade Minister, you must have a sense of crisis, a sense of urgency and a sense of responsibility."