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Rise in phone rates turned back JAKARTA - The Indonesian government rolled back a sharp increase in telephone calling rates today after tens of thousands of workers and students across the country joined in protests against the increase, which took effect Jan. 1. "The minister of telecommunications has agreed that there would not be any increase in telephone rates in 2003," said the speaker of the lower house of Indonesia's Parliament, Akbar Tandjung, who met with government ministers and other lawmakers late Wednesday night.
To fulfill a commitment it made to the International Monetary Fund to reduce its spending on subsidies, the government said last fall that fuel prices would rise by an average of 22 percent, telephone rates by 15 percent and electricity rates by 6 percent at the start of this year. The Indonesian public took little notice of the decision until the increases actually took effect. But when they did, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Jakarta and other major Indonesian cities.
The protests garnered support from labor unions and businesses as well as consumers. One group marched to the presidential palace to submit demands that the increases be scrapped. Of Indonesia's population of more than 212 million, an estimated 40 million are unemployed. The country's economy has suffered since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and especially since last year's terror bombing on the island of Bali.
Mr. Tandjung would not say whether the energy price increases would also be rolled back.



Posted in Protests @ 16 January 2003 00:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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