Sat, 11 Sep 1999

Governor to cut taxes, levies for bus owners

JAKARTA (JP): The city's Association of Land Transportation Owners (Organda) canceled on Friday a planned massive strike next week after Governor Sutiyoso agreed to grant a temporary 50 percent discount on taxes and levies.

After meeting with the governor at City Hall, Organda's head, Aip Syaifuddin, said cancellation of the strike had nothing to do with a threat announced on Thursday by the Jakarta Land Transportation Agency (DLLAJ). The agency pledged to revoke public transport owners' operational permits if they went ahead with the strike.

"We're not afraid of a permit revocation by DLLAJ," he said.

Aip said the decision was only taken after receiving Sutiyoso's subsidy promise.

He said the governor's offer however, did not appease Organda members.

"(The subsidy is) still too small and won't cover our operational costs. We therefore will still ask city council to approve our proposal to hike the bus fares."

Sutiyoso said the temporary subsidy scheme would become effective beginning on Friday next week at the latest.

"I just intend to give the bus companies energy to 'breathe'. But it's a temporary package. It would no longer be effective should the (economic) situation become normal again," the governor said.

The 50 percent cut would include cuts to vehicle tax, import tax on vehicle spare parts and levies of route permits, Sutiyoso said.

He said he would soon meet with Minister of Finance Bambang Subianto to ask the latter's ministry office to cut the import tax of bus spare parts.

He said city-owned Bank DKI would also help bus firms by providing them with soft loans.


Aip also aired Organda's concern over the city councilors' rejection of a proposal to hike bus fares without discussing the matter further with related parties, such as Organda, DLLAJ and the executive body.

Metro Mini's operational director Johannes Damanik said he was upset with the councilors' rejection of the proposal, saying that the councilors were "inconsistent".

"In our recent meeting with the councilors, they said they agreed with the fare hike. But later they rejected it," Damanik said.

Head of the Kopaja bus cooperative, Putu W. Antara, said the councilors were attempting to regain popularity with the public.

"They just don't want to lose face," Putu said.

In their personal capacities, the councilors repeatedly rejected the bus fare hike proposal, saying the public would suffer from such a move.

They however suggested the city administration provide subsidies to the bus firms, a suggestion similar to one proposed by members of the last council.

The city administration earlier rejected subsidies, saying that it would reduce the city's income by Rp 7 billion a year.

The city administration earlier proposed a fare increase of Rp 200 for regular buses, minibuses, limited seat (Patas) buses and air-conditioned Patas buses. The student fare for regular buses was to be doubled to Rp 200.

At least 2,100 privately owned buses -- among 2,675 buses serving 555 routes in the city each day -- had planned to participate on Monday in a strike to press their demands on the bus fare issue. (jun)