Indonesian Police Warn Against Fuel Hoarding Ahead of Price Hike

Motorists refuel at a Mini Gas Station (SPBU Mini) at Sepatan, Tangerang, Banten, on Friday. (JG Photo/Fajrin Raharjo)

Motorists refuel at a Mini Gas Station (SPBU Mini) at Sepatan, Tangerang, Banten, on Friday. (JG Photo/Fajrin Raharjo)

The National Police have vowed to crack down on anyone found hoarding subsidized fuel ahead of a 44 percent price increase next month.

Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar, a police spokesman, said in Jakarta on Tuesday that it is important to stop the practice, which he warned could lead to a massive fuel shortage nationwide and subsequently trigger rioting.

“Fuel is a vital strategic commodity, and in situations like [the upcoming price hike] there are bound to be unscrupulous parties trying to exploit the situation by hoarding fuel before the price increase and selling it afterward,” he said.

He added that Pertamina, the state oil company whose gas stations supply subsidized fuel, had asked the police to help prevent hoarding.

“This request, direct from the Pertamina board of directors, has been received by the National Police and, of course, we are prepared to help in any way possible,” he said.

But Boy said there is not yet a date announced for when the price of subsidized gasoline, currently at Rp 4,500 (46 cents) per liter, would be raised to Rp 6,500 per liter. The new price will be targeted at owners of private cars, while public transportation vehicles and motorcycles will still be allowed to buy fuel at the lower price.

Marzuki Alie, speaker of the House of Representatives, said he was not sure when the increase would go into force, but called on the government to implement it after May 1.

“I don’t recommend increasing the fuel price before May Day,” he said, adding that it would become a focal point for massive workers’ demonstrations planned for that date.

“The timing of the move is just as important as anything else. The government shouldn’t make its move at the wrong moment.”

He also said the House would not attempt to prevent the price increase, as it did in March last year, noting that this time around they were convinced that the policy was in the public’s best interest.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa said the government was still preparing a computerized system to ensure the new dual-price scheme was not undermined, but acknowledged there had been no specific progress toward the implementation.

The Jakarta administration, which previously warned that the new pricing scheme would result in a surge in motorcycle ownership, announced on Monday that it was considering allowing users of the TransJakarta bus network to access all corridors with the purchase of just a single ticket, in an effort to encourage commuters to keep using public transportation.