Saturday, February 24, 2018
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The salt brand Kapal which is produced in Indonesia and has been available in Timor-Leste for many years is intended to be used in pig feed rather than human consumption.

MCI Minister Constancio Pinto said the government has already reached out to the business community to reduce imports of salt into Timor-Leste.Minister of Commerce, Industry and Environment (MCIA) Constancio Pinto said the government had warned entrepreneurs to reduce imports to the country.

However, Pinto said the government could not stop salt imports as Timor had adopted a free market economic policy.

“MCIA has already talked with the company importing the salt and they have agreed to reduce this and also coffee [imports],” he said following the signing of an MoU between supermarkets and horticulture groups at Timor Rai Klaran hall room in Aileu.  

He said salt production in Timor was sufficient to distribute to local markets and more awareness was needed about the benefits of consuming locally produced salt, which was much better quality than imported products.

He said the government was making efforts to increase salt production for local markets by providing funds to producers in Kasait (Liquisa) and Atabae administrative post (Bobonaro), as well as Manatuto and Laga (Baucau).

Timor currently exports salt to Singapore and Macau.

The government is now starting to invest in small industries and has been providing funds to producer groups since 2014 to help boost their production levels.

While Timor is still economically dependent on oil, the government has started investing in the tourism and agriculture sectors, especially local food production.

Meanwhile, President of Commission D (responsible for economy and development) Jacinta Abu Cau Pereira said Timorese people were not animals and called on the government to ban salt imports.

“Indonesia as producer country, they use salt just for feeding animals and in Timor we consume it, we are like animals – this cannot happen, we must stop it,” she said.

She also expressed disappointment that although the Minister had acknowledge that the Indonesian salt was used in animal feed that the government allowed entrepreneurs to continue importing it to Timor for human consumption.

She said that although Timor had adopted a free market system, it did not mean that all products could be imported.

She also called on the government to introduce proper policy and regulations to control imports and ensure products being accessed by communities were good quality and not harmful to people’s health.

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