Limits on purchases – forestall panic buying

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The Indonesian Police urges citizens to limit purchases of selected necessities to allow markets to maintain a safe food stock amid the Coronavirus (or Covid-19) pandemic. (Photo: Rayi Gigih/IO)

IO, Jakarta – The Food Task Force of the Indonesian Police urges cit­izens to limit purchases of select­ed necessities, to allow markets to maintain a safe food stock amid the Coronavirus (or Covid-19) pan­demic. Items restricted include rice (a maximum of 10 kg), sugar (a maximum of 2 kg), cooking oil (a maximum of 4 lt), and instant noo­dles (a maximum of 2 cardboard boxes, each box containing 40 packets). This restriction is stipu­lated in Letter Number B/1872/III/ Res.2.1/2020/Bareskrim dated 16 March 2020. “We issued this Letter last night, in order to dissuade cus­tomers from attempting to exploit a bad situation,” said the Head of the Indonesian Police Food Task Force, Police Brigadier General Daniel Tahi Monang.

The letter was addressed to the chairmen of a number of business associations in Indonesia, such as the Indonesian Retail Business Association (Asosiasi Pengusaha Ritel Indonesia – “Aprindo”), (Pu­sat Koperasi Pedagang Pasar – “Puskoppas”) of DKI Jakarta, the All-Indonesian Provincial Govern­ment Association (Asosiasi Pemer­intah Provinsi Seluruh Indonesia – “APPSI”), and the Market Merchant Cooperative Principal Association (Induk Koperasi Pedagang Pasar – “INKOPAS”). Daniel stated that the announcement is to be in effect from Tuesday 17 March 2020 un­til the situation has improved. “We have concluded an agreement with all modern retail and market mer­chants that the restriction starts today,” he said.

Daniel stated that the price of these necessities has already ris­en because of increased demand, which in turn was caused by a number of citizens who indulged in panic buying amid the Coronavirus or Covid-19 outbreak. However, the Food Task Force has not found any indication of manipulated prices of necessities so far. ‘Prices have ris­en due to a normal increase in de­mand. We notice that some ladies panicked and prices naturally rose, but not steeply,” he said. “This is according to normal economic the­ory: the stronger the demand, the higher prices go. Therefore, people should not panic, should stay calm; there is no need for you to stock up. Stay calm: plenty of food is avail­able.”

The Food Task Force will strictly punish those who hoard in order to drive prices upward. However, so far, no case of such manipulation of prices of daily necessities has been found. “We found nothing so far. If there’s one, they will see justice,” Daniel reiterates.

Earlier, President Jokowi re­quested the people not to buy great quantities of daily necessities. Such extreme buying took place among people after the Government offi­cially announced that Coronavirus had entered Indonesia. “The Gov­ernment guarantees the availabil­ity of daily necessities, including medications. Please do not react so extremely,” Jokowi declared at the Presidential Palace, Jakarta on 3 March 2020. (des)