President Joko Widodo delivers a speech at the Bank Indonesia annual meeting in Jakarta on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Aditya Pradana Putra)

Disrupt My Oil Import Reduction Program and I Will 'Bite' You: Jokowi


NOVEMBER 29, 2019

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said he knew people who loved to import oil and gas and vowed to "disrupt" them should they mess with the government's efforts to tackle the country's trade deficit.

Speaking to a gathering of the country's top fiscal and financial decision makers in Jakarta on Thursday night, the president said the government had been doing all it could to return the trade balance and the current account balance into positive territory by pushing exports and curbing imports, most notably in the oil and gas sector.

"We know our exports comprise mostly raw materials like tins, nickels, bauxites and coals. Processing them into half-finished products would offer very significant added values," the president said at the Bank Indonesia annual meeting.

"But why haven't we done it a long time ago? Because some people still love to import oil and LPG and they don't want any disruption. These are the people I would like to disrupt," the president said.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, regional government heads, top officials of the central bank and the Financial Services Authority (OJK) and members of the House of Representatives.

The president said the government is running a special program to reduce the country's reliance on imported energy sources by obliging a 20 percent mixture of biodiesel in diesel vehicle fuels, known as the B-20 program. The mixture will be increased to 30 percent in January before it moves to 50 percent.

He warned oil and gas importers to stay well clear off the program.

"I know who these people are and as I have said earlier, if they disrupt the B-20 or B-30 program, I will 'bite' them," Jokowi said.

"If the B-20, B-30 and B-50 programs succeed, our oil import will drop drastically. That will also improve our trade balance and current account balance," the president said. 

Indonesia's trade balance was back in the black in October with $161 million in surplus, its highest level in the past six months following an all-time record deficit in April. It also compared favorably to a revised deficit of $164 billion in September. 

But cumulatively, Indonesia still had recorded $1.8 billion in trade deficit from January to October, though that has narrowed from $5.6 billion in the same period last year.