Saturday, October 01, 2005

Indonesia bites the bullet

Still want to bring back oil industry regulation and cheap oil fuel by government subsidies?

How about a little dose of reality for a change?

From AFP (through the Philippine Daily Inquirer):

JAKARTA -- Indonesia more than doubled the average cost of fuel on Saturday despite angry protests before the larger than expected hike that Jakarta hopes will keep an economic crisis at bay. The second increase of the year, which will have immediate effect, comes after the government decided to cut fuel subsidies that were devouring one-fifth of Indonesia's annual budget.

"This is a difficult decision taken by the government after considering all other options," said Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Aburizal Bakrie. Earlier Friday, police in the capital fired tear-gas to disperse rock-throwing students protesting against the fuel-price rise, which was expected to be in the region of only 50 percent. At least three policemen were injured in clashes as students burned tires in front of the Indonesian Christian University's central Jakarta campus in an attempt to block traffic. Hours later the government confirmed the demonstrators worst fears, raising the cost of domestic fuels by an average of 125 percent.

Kerosene, widely used by the poor for cooking, went up from 700 rupiah to 2,000 rupiah (19.4 cents), an increase of 185.7 percent. The price for premium petrol was raised 87.5 percent from 2,400 rupiah to 4,500 rupiah, while diesel oil rose 104 percent from 2,100 rupiah to 4,300 rupiah.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged protesters to express their opposition peacefully, saying violence would deter foreign investors. "Don't act destructively. Don't create an image that our country is not safe. Never create a situation as if there were upheavals or riots," Yudhoyono said.

Former dictator Suharto was brought down in 1998 after raising fuel prices amid a crippling economic crisis. The first rise this year also brought mass protests.

With world oil prices near record highs, Indonesia has been forced to slash the budget-busting fuel subsidies, which parliament this week capped at 89.2 trillion rupiah (8.7 billion dollars) for the year.

Now wipe your nose, dig into your pocket, and be a good consumer.

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