Jakarta – State Logistics Agency (Bulog) president director Budi Waseso has voice suspicion that cartel practices in garlic trading are the reason that prices have remained high.
He was speaking during a hearing with House of Representatives Commission VI on trade affairs on Wednesday. "I am convinced that there is a garlic cartel. The commodity is available, but they stockpile it to jack up [prices]," said Budi as reported by kontan.co.id.
He said he had reported his suspicion to the police in the hope they would inspect the warehouses of garlic importers.
He said he suspected that a group of businesspeople controlled the prices nationwide. "If they decide the price of the commodity should increase by Rp 10,000 (69 US cents) per kilogram, the price will increase by exactly that figure all over Indonesia."
He also suspected that cartel practices might also be a play in the trading of other food commodities because Bulog controlled only 6 percent of the market. "The rest is sold on the open market," he added.
Earlier this month, Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaeman threatened to blacklist garlic importers who played with the price of the commodity, which had caused prices to skyrocket prior to Ramadan.
Amran said all 14 garlic importers had signed an agreement on maintaining garlic prices at under Rp 25,000 per kilogram, but the prices at several markets in Jakarta were between Rp 70,000 and Rp 100,000 on May 4. (bbn)