Thu, 11 May 2000

Private parking operators's plan to file lawsuit impresses no one

JAKARTA (JP): People queued up on Wednesday to criticize a plan by private parking operators to file a lawsuit against the city administration over parking fees, saying it was groundless.

Contacted separately, city officials, a councillor and an observer strongly believed that the businessmen grouped in the Communication Forum for Private Parking Operators (FKKPPS) would lose in any battle at the Jakarta State Administrative Court later.

"It's obvious that they have violated a decree," Deputy Governor for Economic and Finance affairs Fauzi Alvi Yasin told reporters.

Sharing the view, executive director of the Regional Empowerment Study Center (LPPD), Ali Wongso Sinaga, said: "It's clearly stipulated in Law No.14/92 on Traffic and Government Regulation No.43/93 that the city administration has the authority to set parking fees."

"The governor also has the authority to issue licenses for all private parking operators. I think they haven't carefully read all the articles in the regulations," Ali, a former city councillor, said.

Members of the communication forum decided on Tuesday to file a lawsuit against the city administration over the new parking fees, which are much lower than those currently set by private operators.

Based on Gubernatorial Decree No. 1698/1999, since May 1 this year parking rates have been officially set at Rp 1,000 for the first hour in busy areas and Rp 500 in less busy places.

Although the city administration has already postponed the implementation of the decree once -- it should have been adopted last year -- many owners and operators of parking lots in shopping and business centers in the capital have refused to meet the call.

They, instead, are sticking with their previous rates, which are at least double the official rate.

The city administration has threatened to seal parking booths and machines at private parking lots if the operators refuse to charge the lower parking fee.

The City Parking Agency has sent its first warning letters to 10 defiant operators, mostly those under the management of Secure Parking. Those who do not respond could see their equipment sealed off on May 22.

Private parking operators have seemed to link the problem of parking fees to their responsibility to share their revenues with the city administration as stipulated in Article 28 of City Bylaw No.5/1999 on parking.

The operators have also refused to meet the city administration's calls to register their businesses, saying that the governor has no such authority.

City councillor Tjuk Sudono from the National Mandate Party (PAN) faction said privately owned parking lot operators were afraid of losing revenues if they complied with the new fees.

"But it means that they are getting their revenues by violating the law and people's rights," he said.

Actually, he said, motorists were not required to pay parking fees as stipulated in the Law No. 14/1992. The law states the responsibility of building owners to provide parking facilities to the public is one of requirements of obtaining a building permit.

Tjuk said operators who had been hiding behind Law No.18/1997 on Regional Taxes and Levies had no grounds at all to do so.

"Which article are they talking of? The law was designed to apply to places such as weigh bridges and was aimed at keeping the price of the nine basic staples down.

"So it has nothing to do with private parking," he said.

City administration spokesperson Muhayat called on the operators to put the contribution problem aside for the moment.

"Let's just think about people who have to pay such expensive fees. That's why the city administration has set a fee of only Rp 1,000," he said. (09/nvn)