Mimin Dwi Hartono, Acting Head, Support Bureau for the Advancement of Human Rights, Komnas HAM (National Commission on Human Rights), in Republika.id (March 19, 2022)
Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: Antara)
The Indonesian government’s revocation of the maximum retail price for cooking oil on the market caused prices to soar amid a shortage in the market. The government has been submissive to the power of the cooking oil cartel and has ignored human rights.
There are three principles related to the state, business and human rights. First, businesses must respect human rights. Second, the government must protect human rights from all forms of business actions that have the potential to or have violated human rights. Third, the government and corporations are required to provide a mechanism for handling complaints and implementing regulation when human rights violations are caused by businesses.
In his meeting with the House of Representatives on 17 March 2022, the Minister of Trade acknowledged the scarcity of cooking oil caused by cartels. He did not, however, reveal any names of companies and admitted that he was unable to deal with them.
Soon after, the ministry revoked the provision to set a maximum retail price for cooking oil. The price is now left to the market mechanism so that more cooking oil will gradually become available but at a very high price. Instead of taking control of the situation, now the government has been captured by businesses and the market.
Cooking oil is one of the basic needs of Indonesians for various purposes, from household to food businesses of all scales. As a result, it has an impact on the economic rights of residents, the level of welfare, and unemployment due to the loss of job opportunities for food vendors.
The state, which should be protecting and fighting for human rights, has failed in overcoming the cartels from the top, by regulating oil palm plantations and cooking oil production, to the bottom, through law enforcement.