Thu, 30 Mar 2000

Sutiyoso delays increase in 22 levies

JAKARTA (JP): In weighing the burden on residents from impending increases in electricity rates and fuel prices, Governor Sutiyoso said on Wednesday he would delay a planned hike in 22 city levies until further notice.

"I realize residents will face mounting burdens following the government's decision to hike electricity rates and fuel prices. Therefore, I decided to delay the hike of 22 city levies," Sutiyoso was quoted as saying by city administration spokesman Muhayat.

The central government has decided to raise fuel prices an average of 12 percent, and electricity rates will also be increased an average of 29.34 percent. The increases take effect on April 1.

"The hike, however, remains valid for parking fees, which were raised on March 23," Muhayat said.

The city administration has increased the parking fee from Rp 300 (4 U.S. cents) to Rp 1,000 on busy streets and Rp 500 on others.

The city administration categorizes levies as fees paid by city residents before or after receiving services from city agencies.

Muhayat said the governor summoned the assistant to the City Secretary on Administrative Affairs, Ma'moen Amin, to discuss the delay and then informed relevant city agencies of the decision.

"The hiked levies are in line with City Bylaw No. 3/1999 on city levies and we'll increase them some time in the future while waiting for an evaluation in April," he said.

"We'll prioritize which levies to be increased first. Those affecting the majority of residents will be raised later." He pledged there would be no increases in levies throughout April.

He said the delay was unlikely to cause any major problems in the 2000 city budget. City levies are expected to contribute more than Rp 108 billion of the more than Rp 3.389 trillion budget.

Muhayat denied speculation that the governor's move was intended to bolster his position prior to his accountability speech before city councillors later in April.

"There's no such intention. The only consideration is to help most of our residents who would have had to face several price hikes in April," he said.

Although most of the levies are set at low rates, members of the public report rampant irregularities when they seek city services.

The levy to obtain an identity card (KTP), for example, is set at Rp 1,000, but most residents have to pay Rp 5,000 or more to officials.

Commenting on the reports, Sutiyoso urged residents to pay according to the official fees and report irregularities to his office.

"I'll take strong action against my officials, but I need solid proof and reports from residents," he said. (nvn)