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And you think you're mad about gas prices

March 29, 2012 |  4:08 pm


Every day on WorldNow, we choose an amazing photo from around the world. Today we took note of this shot from Indonesia, where protesters are furious about government plans to increase gas prices.

The Indonesian government is planning to raise fuel prices by a third, bringing the cost of subsidized fuel to 65 cents a liter, or $2.38 a gallon, Bloomberg News reported. Government officials say they have to reduce subsidies to avoid increasing the deficit.

"Without raising domestic fuel prices, the government's subsidy bill will continue to bloat," Fauzi Ichsan, senior economist with Standard Chartered Bank in Jakarta, told the BBC.

That hasn't made the idea any more popular. “It just means misery,” Nining Elitos, chairman of the Indonesian Trade Unions Alliance, told Agence France-Presse.

Roughly 2,500 protesters sang songs and sat outside the presidential palace and parliament Thursday in Jakarta to agitate against the plan, Bloomberg reported. Some of the demonstrations grew violent as students hurled stones at police. Demonstrations have also broken out elsewhere in Indonesia: In this photo, a student protester leaps over a fire set in Makassar, the capital of the South Sulawesi province.

Indonesia isn't alone: Dropping fuel subsidies has been a politically dicey move around the globe. Nigeria backtracked on a similar move early this year after protests exploded. Bolivia reversed course on slashing fuel subsidies a year earlier, after an uproar known as the gasolinazo.

How governments subsidize or tax fuel accounts for much of the difference in the price of gasoline in different countries, which is why fuel is priced very differently from one part of the world to another -- and why cutting back on fuel subsidies can cause so much uproar when it happens.


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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: A student jumps over fire Thursday in Makassar,  Indonesia,  during a protest of the government's plan to raise fuel prices. Credit: Elang Herdian / Associated Press