Fuel hike, demonstrations and heavy traffic jams:
The government is planning to raise fuel prices on this Saturday, 1st October to address the budget deficit, and already Indonesia has seen demonstrations against the hike in the streets of Jakarta.
Sporadic protests against a price increase have been launched across Indonesia this week, but so far the numbers have been small. With the year's second fuel-price increase now firmly set (up by about 50%), people are predicting that the demonstrations will increase in size as we approach the official announcement of the hike.
Two things are happening on the street: demonstrations against the fuel hike and heavy traffic jams created by people queuing at the gas stations trying to fill up their gas tanks before 1st October.
The main reason of the hike is the sky-high world oil prices that have ratcheted up fuel subsidies, which this year will eat up nearly a fifth of Indonesia budget which government can not sustain.
This has been mentioned by Priyadi on his blog Priyadi’s Place, an Indonesia blogger well known for debunking Internet scams and hoaxes.
His second post supporting the fuel price increase “Dukung Kenaikan Harga BBM! (2)” received more than 100 comments where people are debating and sharing information about the hike.
Other bloggers, against the increase, cited the fact the increase on fuel price will also increase all prices on goods and services and basically make life harder for most Indonesians.
The government of course has prepared a program to help ease the situation; 16 million households will eligible for a lump sum of $30 in compensation during the next three months.
But the timing is too delicate because it’s to close with the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on October 3 or 4 when usually there's an inflationary impact on the price of goods.
One way or the other, this fuel hike will be a great test for the government and for the Indonesian people. Let's hope and pray the storm will pass and the situation will be better.
Regarding the Cepu oil deal between Indonesia and Exxon Mobil:
Indonesia and U.S. petroleum giant Exxon Mobil Corp. signed a 30 year revenue- and production-sharing agreement that will allow the U.S. firm to tap East Java province‘s massive Cepu oil field (reserves of 600 million barrels of oil, some say 1 billion barrels).
The strongest reaction to the deal might come from Kwik Kian Gie, the former head of Indonesia's Central Planning Agency under President Megawati. His opinion titled “Terjajah Exxon” (Ruled by Exxon) was widely copied by Indonesian Bloggers and circulated on the Internet stating that by allowing the deal to happen, Indonesia is basically still being “colonialized” by foreign powers, the same situation as 50 years ago.
Was he right?
Yosef Ardi, a journalist for Bisnis Indonesia writes on his blog Indonesia Today about the deal with what he called “Cepu Deal: Mediocre Mentality”. On his analysis he wrote that instead of 85:15 (the standard arrangement for such production sharing) the Cepu split is 70:30.
70% for Indonesian government and 30% for the contractors which in this case is again split by Exxon Mobil (45%), Pertamina, state-owned company (45%) and local government (10%)
Indeed it seems like a good deal for Indonesia if we compare it with no production at all, but he calculated that the 15% lost from the standard deal is equivalent to (at US$50 per barrel) US$1.5 million per day or US$500 million per year and US$15 billion in 30 years.
Still related, a blogger reported of an accident in Cepu where a car crashed to Oil Train created huge fire on 23rd September 2005.
The H5N1 virus or what we called Bird Flu or Avian Flu:
The Bird flu has killed 66 people in four Asian nations since late 2003. Currently there are at least 57 people are being treated for suspected bird flu in Indonesia, where the disease has already claimed six lives.
One blogger in Jogjakarta asking why government does not gives enough information because this causes confusion and panic among the people but mostly bloggers posted warnings for people to guard their friends, family and loved ones.
There is even a new Indonesian blog dedicated to cover the Avian Flu: http://indoavianflu.blogspot.com/
People might think that all this bad news about bird flu is bad for business. Not in Jogjakarta. Indonesians, especially Javanese have a special relationship with pet birds. The famous bird market Pasar Ngasem in Jogjakarta has reported a sale increase 20-30% since the bird flu news begins.
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