New Round to Crackdown Beef Cartel

Kamis, 11 April 2013 | 09:25

Commission for the Supervision of Business Competition (KPPU) within the next two weeks will start the new round by changing the status on cartel beef and garlic case from the investigation to an in-depth interrogation.The Commission Chairman Nawir Messi said his team has been calling all importers, related associations, the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Agriculture and judicial expert.

"We also have to collect information from the empirical data in the field and related institutions," he said in a hearing with Commission VI of House of Representatives, Wednesday (4/10).

The Commission has been studying the supply-chain and the prices of these two commodities. Monitoring is regularly done every week in 6 regions, namely East Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, North Sumatra, East Java, Jakarta and Riau Islands.

Besides beef and garlic, this year the Commission is also prioritizing oversight on the energy, infrastructure, finance and health sector.

A livestock analyst, Bustanul Arifin, welcomed the Commission's intention to raise the status of the investigation over the allegation of garlic and beef cartel into the inspection status. "That is good, it is the procedure. We have to follow it," he said, Wednesday (4/10).

However, a senior economist at e Institute for Development of Economics and Finance saw the legal process alone will not effectively suppress food cartels. According to him, the market structure must also be addressed to minimize the food cartels.

"The solution can not only focus in the law enforcement, but also in the improvement of the market structure. Those should be combined, if those are not, then the efforts will not be effective," he added.

Bustanul saw the Government is not yet serious in reforming the structure of the food market. According to him, this can be done by increasing the domestic business scale of food commodities and solid intensification on the commodities.

Moreover, he continued, revamping market structure must be made through efficiency in all lines. The efficiency should be done starting from the local level up to the center.

"Efficiency should be done right from local area, such as revamping the warehouse. Meanwhile, the efficiency in the central can be done by minimizing negotiations behind the granting of quotas and import permits," he explained.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) reported irregularities committed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Commerce in carrying out beef imports from 2010 to 2012.

BPK Unit IV member Ali Masykur Musa said the agency has investigated import transaction from 2010 to October 2012 in Tanjung Priok customs office area and 14,632 goods import notification documents.

From the investigation result, BPK found 8 irregularities including the actual beef import which exceeded import demands.

Ali pointed out in 2011, before the import authority distribution between the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Commerce, the actual import were 102,900 tons, three times than the imports demand as many as 35,800 tons.

He said that such increase was solely based the Ministry of Agriculture policy instead of based on documentation and calculations.

"As of September 2011, there was an abuse of power from the authority without legal basis and calculation, but only on the Ministry of Agriculture policy. In conclusion, there was a plan to set the import quota," he said in a press conference of BPK audit results on Imported Beef.

On the other hand, he continued, the Ministry of Commerce also made a mistake by issuing an import approval exceeding the recommendation from the Ministry of Agriculture after the distribution of authority.

Ali recommended that any encountered crime identification should be legally prosecuted since it contains fraud and illegal imports. He also recommended that indicated companies should be excluded as importers.

Related to alleged beef imports cartel, Ali said that the investigation is under the authority of the KPPU "if the cartel to control the market is proven, let the Commission conduct further investigation," he said. (t03/t07/aph)

by Hadijah Alaydrus, Sri Mas Sari, Aprianto Cahyo Nugroho