Tue, 25 Jan 2000

Price gouging found at vehicle centers

JAKARTA (JP): City councilors visiting several city-run vehicle test centers on Monday were angered by the price gouging they discovered at the centers.

"The official fees vary from Rp 16,500 to Rp 20,000 (US$2.20 to US$ 2.70) per vehicle, but we found people paying up to Rp 150,000 to get their vehicles checked," the chairman of the council's Commission C on financial affairs, Amarullah Asbah, said.

"We regret that this condition exists and urge the City Public Land Transportation Agency, which controls the test centers, to take strong action against officials who are involved in the scam," he said.

Amarullah also disclosed that the test prices would be raised by 100 percent beginning in April as stipulated in City Bylaw No. 3/1999.

"The new fees will range from Rp 25,000 to Rp 40,000 per vehicle," he said, adding that he expected the city administration would familiarize residents with the price hike.

Amarullah was speaking after members of the commission inspected the city-run vehicle test centers in Pulogadung and Ujung Menteng, both in East Jakarta.

There are also test centers in Cilincing, North Jakarta, Jagakarsa, South Jakarta, and Kedaung, West Jakarta. Each center tests some 400 vehicles daily.

Councilor Nazamuddin of the National Mandate Party (PAN) said that while considering the number of vehicles served by the centers, the city administration had lost most of its potential revenue from the test centers because of the scam.

"Where did all the money go? Surely it was not going into the city's pockets," he said.

Azis, a mikrolet (public minivan) driver, told the councilors he had to pay an additional Rp 5,000 to receive the special mark on his minivan indicating it had been tested.

"The worker said it was voluntarily, but everyone knew that they would not do the work if you did not pay them," he said.

The head of the City Public Land Transportation Agency, Buyung Atang, was upset at learning that customers were forced to pay an additional fee for the mark, which he said was included in the official price.

"The agency pays Rp 3,000 per vehicle for the special mark to our private partner, PT Amanah. Residents don't have to pay to get their vehicles marked," he said.

Nazamuddin said the test centers contributed more than Rp 8 billion to the city's coffers in the 1998/1999 fiscal year. In the 1999/2000 fiscal year, however, this figure decreased to some Rp 4 billion due to discounted prices at the centers as stipulated in Gubernatorial Decree No. 4430/1999.

"The situation is worse because the city administration has to compensate its partners for their losses in running the centers," he said. "The city administration had to pay PT SAWU and PT Nakia more than Rp 500 million each to cover their losses." (05)