Indonesia has been importing millions of hoes from China since 2016. (Antara Photo/Aditya Pradana Putra)

'Stop Importing Hoes': Jokowi


NOVEMBER 07, 2019

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has lamented the fact that Indonesia still imports hoes, a low-complexity item that local craftsmen should have been able to produce in spades.   

The president told the Government Goods and Services Procurement Policy Agency (LKPP) and the Government Planning Agency (Bappenas) to encourage local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to produce hoes and other simple tools that are in great demand domestically.

"How has importing become our hobby? We even use government money [to buy these hoes]. That's unacceptable," Jokowi said told thousands of officials from all over Indonesia in a meeting on Wednesday.

"How come we're still importing these hoes? Can't we get our SMEs to make [more] hoes? I'll buy them up," Jokowi said.

The Trade Ministry in 2016 issued a permit to Indonesia Trading Company (PPI) to import 1.5 million hoes from China. The release of the permit coincided with a spike in hoe imports.   

Jokowi said the hoes are only one simple item among many that could have been produced locally but currently are not. 

"We're still importing hundreds of thousands of hoes. We're a huge country, with a growing manufacturing industry, do we really need to import these hoes? This is just one item, there are thousands of other goods we're still importing as well," Jokowi said.

Indonesia has suffered from trade deficits in the past months, as demands for natural commodities, such as palm oil and coal – the country's largest exports – continue to decline and bring down prices.

The Central Statistics Agency in September announced a trade balance with a deficit of $160 million. In the previous month, there was a surplus of $85 million. 

"The countries we're importing from are having a good time. Meanwhile, we're running a current account deficit, a trade balance deficit. We keep importing because their prices are cheaper," Jokowi said.

Jokowi said he was shocked that some in the government still encouraged importing products and services into Indonesia.

Jokowi said too much import would cripple the local industry and cut jobs. 

"I've asked the head of the LKPP to procure goods with very high local components. Make it difficult [for the government] to import all the time. Or just stop it altogether," Jokowi said.