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Violence mars fuel cash aid distribution MATARAM - Hundreds of people attacked and vandalized local government offices on Tuesday in West Lombok and Tangerang, signaling that public frustration is growing over the messy distribution of fuel compensation money across the archipelago. Tuesday's incidents were the latest in a series of violent incidents across the nation since the government started disbursing cash aid to the poor to offset the impact of the fuel price hikes on Oct. 1.

The fresh violence in West Lombok broke out after officials in Bengkel subdistrict extorted money from residents collecting their payments, with each being forced to pay Rp 100,000 out of the Rp 300,000 due to them. The residents said that local government officials were waiting for them at the local post office where they were due to receive their payments, threatening that they would be denied the cash aid during the next payout if they refused to pay Rp 100,000 each.

The residents said they were stunned by the move. However they felt there was nothing they could do except hand over the money. According to Zaini, a resident, the people dispersed peacefully after receiving their payments, but frustration grew as they made their way home, and eventually culminated in an attack on the subdistrict offices. The angry residents vented their anger at the building, hurling stones, and breaking chairs, desks and other items of furniture. None of subdistrict officials were hurt as they hurriedly left the scene.

Separately, similar violence, but with a different motive, took place in Tangerang municipality where hundreds of residents destroyed five subdistrict offices on the same day. The residents were venting their rage after being excluded from the list of poor people eligible to receive the compensation money.

These latest violent incidents are just some examples of how messy the distribution of the fuel compensation funds has become across the country. Part of the problem is due to erroneous statistical data, with local statistics offices mistakenly including better-off people on the lists of those eligible to receive the assistance, while at the same time excluding poor people from the lists, sparking anger among those thus excluded. Problems also arose from the greed of local government officials, who attempted to reap personal gain from the process.

The government itself has admitted that the distribution process has been chaotic in a number of areas. Some regents have acted to halt the distribution process, pending the collection of improved statistical data, while also pledging to sternly punish unscrupulous local officials taking advantage of the process.

The central government has so far acknowledged that the poor quality of the statistical data has meant that some 500,000 families, out of a total of 15.4 million families eligible to receive the money, had not done so thus far. The government has said it will improve the quality of the statistics and ensure that all those entitled to the money will receive it. Those categorized as eligible to receive the money are those with monthly incomes of below Rp 175,000 (US$17.5).


Link to related event Related event:
Fuel price hike 1 October 2005

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30 September 2005 · Indonesia shocks with fuel price moves
30 September 2005 · New fuel prices up by 126%


Posted in General @ 19 October 2005 07:41 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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