Indonesia offers free rice cookers to cut LPG imports


(Photo: iStock)

To reduce the reliance on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), the Indonesian government implemented a program that offer free energy-efficient electric cookers last year.

The initial target was to distribute 500,000 sets of rice cookers. However, according to the data from the executing unit, only 340,000 sets were distributed. The initiative’s effectiveness has fallen short of expectations because of qualification verification process, contributing to an annual budget achievement rate of less than 90%.

In a press conference held on Jan. 15, the Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) announced a budget execution rate of 89.96% for the year 2023. Minister Arifin Tasrif attributed the shortfall to the underperformance of two key initiatives, such as the free electric cooker program and the electric motorcycle promotion program did not meet the set standards.

Tasrif stated, “We have exerted our utmost efforts, with the aim of distributing 500,000 rice cookers, but in the end, we managed to distribute only 342,000.” The General Director of Electricity under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Jisman P. Hutajulu, attributed the delay to insufficient time for plan execution. “We spent two months verifying the conditions of the public. Initially, we had to obtain comprehensive social welfare data through the village leaders.” added Hutajulu.

Since October last year, authorities have been distributing free electric cookers to eligible low-income households, aiming to reduce the reliance on 3-kilogram imported Liquefied Petroleum Gas and encourage a shift to electricity.

Indonesia President Joko Widodo seeks to decrease energy imports and assumed that compared to liquefied petroleum gas extracted solely from crude oil, some of the electricity is sourced from renewable energy, making it “cleaner”. Therefore, there has been a strong promotion of electric cooking, with the estimate that the rice cooker distribution project could reduce the consumption of 29 million kilograms of liquefied petroleum gas.

With 67% of Indonesia’s electricity being derived from coal, this policy has faced criticism from some experts. Krisdyatmiko, a professor from Gajah Mada University in Yogyakarta, expressed his views, stating, “Electricity, like bottled gas, is not sourced from renewable energy.” Despite such criticism, the authorities have persisted in implementing the policy. The lower-than-expected execution rate has once again sparked discussions and debates among the public and experts.

Despite the continuous negative news, Tasrif revealed that the public response to the project has been quite positive. He stated, “We expect to distribute the remaining rice cookers by January of this year.”

Additionally, Indonesia’s Minister of Industry, Agus Gumiwang, confirmed at the same event that the subsidy amount for electric motorcycles this year has decreased by 150,000 units compared with last year, with a total of 50,000 vehicles. Agus explained that the subsidy quota for electric motorcycles last year couldn’t be fulfilled due to the program that just started in April and the relaxed subsidy regulations only took effect at the end of 2023. Moreover, the perception that the charging speed of current battery components is still too slow has discouraged people from transitioning to electric motorcycles.

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