Power Price Hike Dubbed ‘Suicide’

DENPASAR
The Bali Times

BALI’S consumer protection agency (LPK) says any immediate action by PLN to increase the basic electricity tariff would be “suicide” and result in turmoil.

LPK Bali chairman Putu Armaya called on the government and PLN to postpone the planned increase until PLN improved its service to consumers, economic conditions were more certain and customers less restless.

Armaya said PLN continued to provide unsatisfactory service because supply to existing customers was uncertain and the waiting list for people seeking new electricity connections was growing.

“We do not reject the planned increase, but it should be postponed until PLN can actually provide outstanding service and community economic conditions have improved,” he said

“If people are satisfied, turmoil will not result when the TDL (basic tariff) is increased.”

In Jakarta, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Radjasa said the government could not arbitrarily decide on the extent of the TDL increase and was, with the House of Representatives, examining budget capacity to subsidise power costs, public purchasing power and PLN’s financial capacity.

Previously, the government and the legislature had agreed to increase the TDL by 15 percent in January before putting the plan on hold due to economic conditions.

“So we will discuss it again,” said Hatta. “The planned 15 percent hike mentioned by the finance minister was obtained from the previous discussion.”

He said more than half the 2010 budget of Rp54 trillion (US$5.8 billion) for electricity subsidisation would benefit subscribers.

Hatta believes that subscribers of 6600 watts and more “must pay their electricity bills according to their economic capacity.

“Yet, we have to discuss the matter with the House according to the standing procedure,” he said. Discussions are expected to take place this month or in April.

When Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati recently announced the 15-percent hike now under review, she said the increase would not affect all users.

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