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Prabowo's promise to stop fuel imports difficult to achieve, economist says

Tempo - November 27, 2023

Tempo.Co, Jakarta – Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto promised that he would stop importing fuel oil (BBM) if he was elected president in the upcoming 2024 elections. The director of the Center of Economic and Law Studies (Celios), Bhima Yudhistira, said that it is a difficult promise to keep considering Indonesia's huge fuel imports volume.

Bhima noted that from January to October 2023, Indonesia has imported US$16.8 billion worth of fuel. "That's quite a fantastic number, very large. So it can't be replaced over the next five years," Bhima said when contacted by Tempo on Sunday, November 26, 2023.

Prabowo promised that Indonesia would become energy self-sufficient if he was elected as the country's top man. He said that Indonesia will be the only country in the world where 100 percent of its energy sources come from biofuel, namely palm oil, corn and sugarcane.

According to Bhima, if the government's ambition is to replace fossil fuel with biofuel, this could create new problems. Bhima referred to last year's situation when the government pushed for the use of B35 biodiesel, which caused a dangerous tug-of-war between CPO's need for biofuel and the need for food or cooking oil.

Bhima said that this incident could happen again if the government is eager to encourage using CPO for biodiesel, or sugarcane for ethanol. If the government pursues a larger mix of renewable energy from biodiesel, there are concerns that it will trigger food price hikes.

He underlined that in calculating emission, the government cannot just consider the switch from fuel to biodiesel, but rather the emissions produced from the entire supply chain. Because, if pushing for a higher biodiesel mix causes deforestation, the emissions will become relatively high.

"Even though [the emission] will be lower than fuel, the process must also be considered," Bhima argued, stressing that the government's good intention to reduce fuel imports using biodiesel should not result in high emissions.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1801994/prabowos-promise-to-stop-fuel-imports-difficult-to-achieve-economist-say