JAKARTA — The Indonesian House of Representatives met Monday evening to debate a revised budget that includes a highly contentious increase in the price of subsidized gasoline, which drew thousands of protesters into the streets of the capital.
The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono wants to raise gasoline prices 44 percent, from 4,500 rupiah, or 45 cents, a liter, or 0.26 gallon, to 6,500 rupiah to help close a widening budget deficit. The country’s Finance Ministry has said spending on fuel subsidies could reach $23 billion in 2013, compared with about $20 billion last year, if urgent action is not taken.
Amid heavy rain, protesters including members of labor groups — the Jakarta police estimated as many as 4,000 — staged rallies and burned tires Monday outside the national legislative complex in south Jakarta to voice opposition to any price increases. The police said they had deployed nearly 20,000 officers to maintain order, given violent protests that had erupted during past fuel price debates.