Sat, 04 Aug 2001

New parking fees target wealthy motorists

JAKARTA (JP): Motorists beware, those of you parking at parking lots run by PT Securindo Packatama may be subject to not only the published hourly fees, but also encumbered by newly imposed taxes and other questionable fees.

At the parking lots run by the company at Le Meridien and the Mandarin Oriental Hotels, motorists since July 1 have had to pay an additional 10 percent tax on top of the regular parking fees.

While still uncommon in most parking lots, including those run and managed by the city administration, the application of the 10 percent value added tax is based on Tax Law No. 8/1983.

Thus if a vehicle owner usually pays Rp 3,000 for parking, that person would now have to pay an extra Rp 300 for the tax.

While the extra charge may irk consumers, it is still nonetheless legal.

What immediately raises eyebrows is that the company, for the sake of "convenience", often rounds-off the price upwards.

An official at PT Securindo Packatama admitted that such a practice was going on, contending that it was more convenient than having to supply an ample amount of small change.

An official at PT Securindo Packatama, who asked not to be named, warned that vehicle owners could be inconvenienced with long car queues if the amount was not rounded off.

"It could cause traffic jams inside the parking lot because both the parking attendant and the customer would be scrambling for coins," the company officials told The Jakarta Post.

The official argued that coins are difficult to find and parking attendants are likely to make wrong calculations.

The official explained that the "extra" money went directly to the company's coffers to cover losses caused by people who park for more than four hours.

Since July the company has applied the new "arrangement" at the two hotels based on the assumption that those who use the parking services at these venues "would not feel burdened with having to shell out the additional amount."

"These people usually come from the middle to upper class; it's not a huge figure to them," the official contended.

There is a possibility that the company may also apply such arrangements to other parking lots it manages.

But such practices are receiving strong criticism from the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) and city officials.

Tulus Abadi, a member of YLKI's advocation team, said whatever reason was being given by the company it was merely "a weak excuse."

"It isn't fair to burden consumers like that. Besides, it is unclear where the money goes," he charged.

YLKI also contends that private parking companies should be paying the VAT themselves and not burden customers.

"Parking is a public service, therefore, the public should not be taxed for it," Tulus told the Post.

PT Securindo Packatama is still contemplating whether or not to impose the new calculation on all of their lots.

"People who go to the mall, for example, might not have the same financial means as those who visit five-star hotels," the manager said.

According to the city's parking department, the administration has stipulated that parking fees should not be more than Rp 1,000 per hour.

"Companies who charge parking fees of more than Rp 1,000 are violating this regulation," Syukuri Bey, head of the city parking department told the Post.

Overall, vehicle owners in the near future may have to dig deeper into their pockets as the city parking department has proposed to the city council an additional 20 percent parking tax for "off the street" motorists.

"Off the street" motorists are vehicles parked inside a building, as opposed to vehicles parked on the street.

The city administration currently oversees 350 privately run parking companies.

Commenting on PT Securindo Packatama's new calculation at the Le Meridien hotel, one motorist remarked: "It's not just about the money; consumers were not notified about this and I don't see a better service being provided to the consumer." (04/06)