Riani Sanusi Putri, Jakarta – President Director of State Logistics Agency (Bulog) Budi Waseso a.k.a. Buwas conducted a sudden inspection of the rice warehouses belonging to Jakarta-owned food security firm PT Food Station Tjipinang Jaya in East Jakarta on Friday, February 3, 2023.
Buwas discovered a number of items suspected to be evidence of the existence of rice mafia practice at two warehouse buildings.
At the first warehouse, Buwas found piles of Bulog rice next to other rice brands, as well as a number of empty sacks with various brands, such as Induk Ayam and Lumbung Rejeki.
"These are sacks of premium rice. They might move Bulog rice to sacks of different brands. This is the proof," said Buwas, holding a suspicious sack. Buwas then folded and planned to report it to the National Police's Food Task Force.
Buwas suspected that the Bulog rice was deliberately moved to other brand packaging labeled as premium quality rice so that the price surged from a maximum of Rp8,900 at the Cipinang Central Market to Rp12,000 per kilogram.
Buwas also suspected of other tricks of the rice mafia, such as mixing Bulog rice with other rice and then selling it at above the highest retail price (HET). Additionally, the rice was repacked to smaller sizes, namely 5 to 10 kilograms.
In another warehouse, Buwas found similar evidence and called the owner, Stephen, who then denied the accusation. Buwas went around the warehouse and recognized a container allegedly used for mixing Bulog rice with other brands.
"He [Stephen] said the rice was from Karawang, I bet it's not from Karawang. It's been mixed, see there's a mixing place," he added.
Buwas explained that this rice mafia's game made Bulog's efforts to distribute the government's rice reserves (CBP) to suppress price hikes in vain. Moreover, the current CBP in Bulog warehouses was premium quality imported from Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, and Pakistan.
He had met President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and reported the alleged existence of the rice mafia. He thus warned the President Director of PT Food Station Tjipinang Jaya Pamrihadi Wiraryo to take further action against the traders under the auspices of the regional-owned enterprises.
"I asked for Food Station's discretion. This is not searching for someone's fault, but for improvement so that people are not harmed," Buwas concluded.