Fuel subsidies remain a sticky issue for most of the developing world’s governments. At a disproportionate amount, this imposes a threat to fiscal stability to a nation’s annual budget; lowering it may trigger inflation, and possibly, social upheaval. The effacement of fuel subsidies in Nigeria have resulted in days of rioting across the country’s major cities. Several regimes in Asian and Latin American countries fell prey to en masse protests when fuel price hike is announced. The lifeblood of Venezuela’s highly discounted basic items relies heavily on the rulers’ generous subsidies on oil production, a slight increase of which may even shake the already fragile social structure of the nation.
And Indonesia itself is not impenetrable to this ‘poison’. Over the last 2 decades, the ‘up-and-down’ game of fuel price politics has widely affected the livelihood of the nation: a decades-old dictator deposed, riots flaring up in major cities, university students clashing with police and even societies themselves, labor protests and union-enforced strikes, red-plate vehicles burnt down, street blockades resulting in total logjam, and pre-election ‘money politics’ allegation as seen from compensation packages offered to the hardest-hit poor (a mere monthly cash of 15 US$ distributed to every family).
Until you realize that the country itself is not alone (it is, in fact, happening in numerous emerging-market hot spots), in context of ‘social fervor’.
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