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Indonesia to Delay Planned Increase in Cost of Telephone Calls - 2003-01-16

The Indonesian government has agreed to delay planned rises in the price of telephone calls.

Indonesia has been hit by daily public protests since the government raised the price of fuel and electricity at the beginning of the year.

Although protesters and the opposition have been calling for all the price increases to be reversed, the government said only that it would delay the planned 15 percent rise in the cost of telephone calls. Government officials said they would meet at a later date to consider the increases in fuel and electricity costs.

The government introduced the price hikes as part of a national development program, which calls for gradually reducing subsidies for telephone services and energy.

Several thousand people attended demonstrations in several cities, calling for the government to reverse the increases in the cost of fuel, which has risen by 22 percent, and electricity, which went up six percent.

The opposition argues that the increases will hurt the poor through higher transportation costs, but the government says the middle class has been the main beneficiary of the subsidies.

Opponents of the price increases have vowed to keep protesting, but international donors, who are due to meet next week to discuss aid to Indonesia, are sure to maintain their pressure for structural reform of the economy.