Sunday, July 3, 2022

Corruption claims plague Indonesian beef quota

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The Indonesian beef import industry has been wracked by claims of corruption and bribery in recent weeks, extending through to key political figures.  Indonesian news media have reported the president of the popular Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) has been arrested and detained by Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on grounds of accepting a bribe of NZ$125,000 from two senior meat importing company executives.

The president is alleged to have used his influence over the agriculture minister to demand a kickback from meat importers in order to afford them a portion of the nation’s quota.

The party has grown its popularity in recent years through staunch opposition to corruption and bribery, in keeping with its Islamist foundations.

This bribe is understood to be the first of several the president was to receive from a total of NZ$10 million in bribes. The Indonesian weekly news magazine Tempo reported it was through people with influence that importers of Australian and New Zealand beef were able to get more than their quota, regulated behind closed doors by the Agriculture Ministry.

The magazine called for further investigation into the Minister of Agriculture himself and late in February the minister was corralled for questioning by the KPK.

With beef prices hitting record highs in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta in particular, consumer unrest over the alleged corruption is high. Consumers have long suspected they pay over the top for beef, while price signals are not translating to farmers increasing domestic stock numbers despite the Government’s claimed goal of self-sufficiency in beef (see accompanying article).

Latest reports from the Jakarta Globe are that the minister’s secretary is denying any knowledge his boss had any role in the racket, or of any alleged meetings between the minister and two beef importing company executives.

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