Less than a week after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono banned the use of subsidized fuel for government vehicles, public officials in Depok announced plans to change vehicle license plates from government-vehicle red to private-vehicle black.
Public officials in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi have been barred from using subsidized fuel for government vehicles since June 1. But in the days after the announcement, numerous public officials have been caught fueling up with subsidized fuel thanks to the cars’ tell-tale red license plates.
Wijayanto, head of general affairs in Depok, denied that the license plates in the city were changed to circumvent the new regulation.
“The purpose is not to deceive the fuel station officer when filling up,” Wijayanto said, “but for the security of public officials when they are carrying out their duties.”
Cars used by Depok regional secretary Etty Suryahati, public administration assistant Sayid Cholid and Asep Roswana, head of the city’s agency for youth, sports, tourism, art and culture, have been seen with dark blue acrylic covering the red license plates.
The driver of one of these cars denied that the acrylic was used to purchase subsidized fuel.
“I don’t know why we’re using a black plate,” said the driver, who declined to be named. “But the [car] always uses Pertamax [non-subsidized fuel].”
Non-subsidized fuel costs, on average, twice as much as subsidized fuel.
Some local government officials have said the ban on state-owned vehicles using subsidized fuel would only result in more local government spending.
“If all government cars use Pertamax, this will put a heavy burden on the state budget,” Rizal Effendi, the mayor of Balikpapan in East Kalimantan, said on Tuesday.
Government-owned vehicles use about 1.3 million liters of fuels per day, or 500 million liters a year, according to one estimate. That is a just a small fraction of the quota of 40 billion liters for subsidized fuel in the 2012 state budget.