×

Indonesia caps rice prices in bid to keep food costs stable

JAKARTA, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Indonesia's trade ministry has capped retail prices for most types of rice, looking to "maintain stability" in the cost of the commodity which lies at the heart of cuisine in the Southeast Asian nation.

Although prices for the grain have been relatively steady this year, the step comes as authorities intensify measures to ensure food prices remain in check as they are politically-sensitive due to their impact on the poor.

Rice prices also carry a heavy weighting in calculating the country's consumer price index.

The decree, issued last week with immediate effect, puts ceiling prices at between 9,450 rupiah to 10,250 rupiah ($0.71-$0.77) per kilogram (kg) for 25-percent broken rice, or what authorities call "medium rice," depending on where the grain is sold in the archipelago.

Those ceiling prices were below national average of medium rice prices in 2017, which have so far fluctuated between 10,540 rupiah to 10,756 rupiah a kg, according to trade ministry data.

The government also set the maximum prices for 15-percent broken rice, or "premium rice" at 12,800 rupiah to 13,600 rupiah per kg.

Other types of rice the government considers "special" are exempt from the new rules.

The move comes in the wake of a crackdown on some Indonesian rice companies. Last month, police detained the chief executive of rice company PT Indo Beras Unggul, a unit of food company PT Tiga Pilar Sejahtera Food, over allegations of false product labeling.

Indonesia's annual inflation rate has been manageable so far in 2017, the central bank has previously said. In August, the rate was 3.82 percent, comfortably inside Bank Indonesia's 3-5 percent target range for 2017, the statistics bureau reported on Monday.

($1 = 13,339.0000 rupiah) (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Joseph Radford)