Indonesian students to stage demonstration against oil price hikes

Sep 29, 2005 02:00 AM

The Muhammadiyah Student Association (IMM) plans to mobilize masses for a mammoth demonstration to reject the South African government’s plan to increase fuel oil prices, a spokesman said.
IMM chairman Ahmad Rofiq who is a member of Vice President Jusuf Kalla's retinue on his current working visit to South Africa, said the demonstration would be staged outside the presidential palace in Jakarta and be joined by workers and farmers.

Ahmad made the statement in Capetown together with another member of the Vice President’s entourage, Muhammadiyah Youth chairman Abdul Muti.
Ahmad and Abdul both criticized the government’s policy to pay every registered poor family in the country Rp 100,000 per month in compensation for the fuel oil price hikes effected last March, saying the handouts would not help but make things more difficult for the people.

Abdul Muti said the compensation funds would even become a serious problem because their payment would be followed by a sharp increase in the costof living. While poor families received Rp 100,000 per month, their cost of living could rise to Rp 300,000 as the prices of daily necessaries were already beginning to move upward.
"So in the final analysis, they will lose Rp 200,000," he said. The quarterly disbursement of the compensation funds would also create problems because it was not accompanied by the provision of job opportunities, he said.

Instead of cash handouts, it would be better if the governmental assistance was given in the form of access to business capital.
"For instance, Rp 1.2 mm would be enough for a poor family to start a business. Or they should be given soft loans through cooperatives or Bank Rakyat Indonesia," he said.

Although the fuel oil price hikes would solve some of the government’s financial difficulties, it needed to develop alternative energy sources such as solar, geothermal and marine power, he said.
"There must also be efforts to educate the public to conserve energy and use energy sources other than oil like gas for automobiles," Abdul said.

The government is reportedly planning to increase fuel oil prices by 50-80 %.

Source: Antara
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