Indonesia braces for unrest over fuel price rises
The price of fuel in Indonesia needs to be raised for many reasons. The main one being to try to curb the rampant fuel smuggling where boats are carting subsidized fuel daily to Singapore and selling it to be purchased again at world prices to ship back to Indonesia. Indonesia imports most of the diesel used as the oil found here is a lighter drude that does not readily refine to diesel and heavy oils. Indonesians are just going to have to ge used to living in the real world and stop driving around as much as they do. These next few days are going to be merry hell on the roads with already queues of vehicles waiting to get into gas stations stretching for Kiliometers down the road and blocking up the way. I have to head for the airport today so we have to devise a route that will not take us past or even near any gas stations! Suharto kept prices unrealistically low for many years and this government is going to have to rearrange the entire system to represent todays realities. Unfortunately wages are always the last thing to be raised. One billion USD a month subsidizing fuel. That is a lot of money…The protestors need to wake up and smell the coffee. They are being used by those who see their scams and goldmines finishing up this weekend. Don’t think for a moment that a protest in Indonesia is a spontaneous thing. It is planned, paid for and delivered. Rent a riot. $5 a day plus a teeshirt and transport and sometimes even food and drink. I kid you not.
Thousands of police are protecting petrol stations and government buildings across Indonesia from mounting protests against plans to raise fuel prices tomorrow.
With queues of up to a kilometre to buy petrol, hundreds of demonstrators converged on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s palace in central Jakarta, demanding the price increase be abandoned.
Heavy fuel subsidies, costing more than $A1 billion a month, are crippling Indonesia’s budget due to soaring world oil prices and a sliding rupiah.
A rise of about 50 per cent is expected, politically sensitive in an impoverished nation where most poor people depend on kerosene for cooking. Petrol prices are close to the world’s lowest, about 30 cents a litre.
Jakarta police warned the protests could become "anarchic", although those so far have been small by Indonesian standards. Protests may build when the rise is detailed and introduced over the next two days.
Fuel price rises contributed to unrest that led to the overthrow of the former president Soeharto in 1998. In May Dr Yudhoyono increased fuel prices by a third and promised they would not rise again this year.
Already a consortium of political leaders, including the past presidents Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri, have endorsed the protests and criticised Dr Yudhoyono, who told protesters they should "feel free to take to the streets and express your aspirations in an orderly manner, without torching, occupying or vandalising anything".