"Seven groups, which control the salt business, are allegedly part of a salt cartel. This cartel is very dangerous," Ramli stated here on Monday.
The statement was delivered by Ramli after holding a coordination meeting with Trade Minister Thomas Lembong, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti, and Industry Minister Saleh Husin.
The alleged cartel, involving seven traders, is responsible for the increase in salt imports and hike in its prices.
When the domestic farmers failed produce, the price of salt would be increased by the salt traders.
"The cartel has destroyed the salt industry and has affected the farmers," he pointed out.
Therefore, Rizal emphasized that the government continued to monitor the salt trade through a quota system.
"The quota system, which is used in the salt trade, has increased the number of imports. It is necessary to review the system," he affirmed.
Earlier, General Chairman of the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen Association (KNTI) Riza Damanik had stated that the alleged presence of a cartel in the salt business was the main factor that had hindered the efforts to achieve sovereignty in the salt production sector.
He remarked that the cartel was strong as it was concealing itself by taking advantage of the unharmonious relations between the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and the Ministry of Industry.
The salt issue is also believed to be linked to the storage time at Indonesian ports, thereby causing delays and impacts, which had disadvantaged and reduced the competitiveness of the nation.
Several figures of inter-related ministries are believed to be involved.
Meanwhile, Pudjiastuti expressed hope that the investigation on the storage time conducted by the Jakarta police would also focus on the import of salt.
"I hope the police would also conduct an investigation on the import of salt in the country," the minister affirmed.