Indonesia. Protests launched against rising fuel prices | News | DW

Thousands of protesters gathered in cities across Indonesia on Tuesday to demand an end to fuel price hikes.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced over the weekend that the government would cut fuel subsidies and let prices rise by 30%. This is the first price increase in eight years, and comes up against galloping inflation and a tripling of the budget for energy subsidies.

This decision raised the price of petrol from around 51 US cents (€0.51) to 67 cents per liter and of diesel from 35 cents to 46 cents.

Student and worker groups held marches in the capital Jakarta, as well as in the cities of Surabaya, Makassar, Kendari, Aceh and Yogyakarta. Police say other large crowds are likely this week.

Unions say rising prices will have the biggest impact on workers and the urban poor.

“Workers are really, really suffering right now,” Abdul Aris, a union official, told Reuters news agency. He vowed to keep fighting until the government gives in.

Protesters also demanded an increase in the minimum wage from next year.

Thousands of police were deployed across Jakarta, many of whom were tasked with guarding gas stations.

Protesters over the weekend burned tires and blocked roads – complaining they were already reeling from rising food prices and the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government says it is softening the blow by strengthening social protection programs and setting up helplines in the country of 270 million people.

“These are very difficult conditions, but if you look at the aid provided by the government, it is quite significant,” Social Affairs Minister Tri Rismaharini told a press conference. “We hope this can help cushion the price hike people are facing.”

Fuel subsidies have long been sensitive in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. The government has subsidized fuel for decades and past increases have sparked student protests.

In 1998, mass riots helped overthrow longtime dictator Suharto.

aw/msh (Reuters, AP)

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