April 20, 2022
JAKARTA – The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has named four suspects, including a senior government official, in a case of corruption that led to a lack of of cooking oil and high prices for the commodity on the local market. One of the suspects has been identified only as IWW but he is reported to be the Trade Ministry’s foreign trade director general. The other three are executives from three private companies, namely Permata Hijau Group, PT Wilmar Nabati Indonesia and PT Musim Mas. The four suspects have been detained by the AGO. In a press conference on Tuesday, Attorney General Sanitiar Burhanuddin said that the ministry official had allegedly issued export permits illegally for several palm oil producers, which led to a scarcity and increased prices.
“The scarcity is ironic because Indonesia is the largest CPO [crude palm oil] producer in the world,” Burhanuddin said as quoted by Tempo. Burhanuddin said that investigators had secured enough evidence after questioning 19 witnesses and examining 596 documents. According to the Attorney General the suspects colluded in the export permit issuance. The permits should not have been issued because they were not in accordance with domestic selling prices. The producers also did not fulfill a domestic market obligation (DMO) that required palm oil producers to redirect 20 percent of their intended export volumes to the home market.
Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil producer and exporter, yet the country has struggled to overcome a cooking oil shortage in many regions this year. Pictures and videos of people forming long lines to buy cooking oil all over the archipelago have made the news for weeks. Cooking oil prices soared in March after the government revoked a price cap for simple and premium packaged cooking oil in response to surging international CPO prices. In early April, the government launched an unconditional cash transfer (BLT) scheme for cooking oil to help lower-income Indonesian households purchase the staple product. (dre)