Mon, 17 Oct 1994

Govt rapped over planned hike in electricity tariffs

JAKARTA (JP): A number of legislators want the government to consult the House of Representatives (DPR) every time it plans to increase billing rates of electricity, which affects the interest of the public.

"As electricity directly affects the interest of the public, any plan to increase its billing rates should be brought to the House's Commission VI for open discussion," Bachtiar Achmad, a member of the commission which deals with energy, mining and manufacturing said Saturday.

Distribution of electricity in the country is mostly monopolized by the state electricity company PLN but its billing rates are determined by the government through a ministerial decree.

Bachtiar and Ali Hardi Kiaidemak, both of the United Development Party (PPP) faction, told The Jakarta Post that the faction will ask the House to summon executives of PLN and officials of the Ministry of Mines and Energy to discuss its plan to ask for an increase in electricity rates by about three percent to 11 percent next month.

Commission leaders representing all the four factions -- the dominant Golkar, PPP, the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and the Armed Forces (ABRI) -- have reportedly supported the plan.

"The plan should be deliberated by the commission in an open session, not in a close-door meeting with faction leaders at the House," Bachtiar said.


In a closed-door meeting with the House on Oct. 8, Minister of Mines and Energy I.B. Sudjana reportedly said that increasing electricity rates will help increase PLN's annual profit by Rp 240 billion (US$110 million), which can be used to finance the electrification of 2,100 villages in the country.

Meanwhile, Tadjudin Noer Said of the Golkar faction remarked that Golkar should have not made any statement supporting the planned rise in electricity tariffs because neither the government nor PLN has made any formal proposal to the House.

Fearing that this case would be a bad precedence for the government, Tadjudin suggested that the government bring up all important issues dealing directly with the people, including electricity billing rates, to DPR at the beginning of every year, when the president presents the government's projection of its spending for the coming fiscal year.

"So, when the government thinks that electricity rates should be increased, it should make the projection long before it happens," Tadjudin said.

Budi Hardjono of the PDI faction suggested that PLN improve its efficiency before increasing its billing rates, which will burden the public.(rid)