Lenny Tristia Tambun, Jakarta – The Indonesian capital should consider canceling its Formula E Championship next year as the city is still running a budget deficit and many of its residents still lack access to basic necessities, politicians from the Indonesian Solidarity Party, or PSI, said.
Anthony Winza Probowo, a PSI lawmaker in the city council, said it was not appropriate for the government to spend a major part of its budget on hosting an international sporting event.
He also pointed out that many other countries have shunned the event because it loses money. "Many countries have lost money hosting the Formula E championship and were unable to continue hosting it the following years," Anthony said.
He said Governor Anies Baswedan should focus on improving conditions in the city's schools, access to clean water and ease of doing business rather than hosting the Formula E race.
"Many Jakartans still don't have access to clean water. Many still struggle coming up with enough money for their small businesses. And there are many school buildings in Jakarta that need to be renovated," Anthony said.
The Jakarta administration has argued that the 2020 Formula E Championship will do wonders to promote the use of electric vehicles in Indonesia.
But Anthony wondered if this was an excuse after-the-fact, since promoting electric vehicles is not even included in the city's development agenda.
Anggara Wicitra Sastroamidjojo, another PSI politician, said the city could use other methods to promote and build electric car infrastructure without having to spend Rp 1.6 trillion ($101 million) on hosting the race.
Anggara also reminded that Jakarta may see a budget shortfall this year since a Rp 6.4 trillion revenue-sharing fund from the central government has been delayed.
Anggara suggested the city government could instead increase the number of electric buses and electric charging stations around the capital.
"If the goal is to encourage the use of electric cars, we can use the huge budget to build infrastructure to support them. The city government can install thousands of electric car chargers around the city and buy hundreds of new electric buses. Why does the governor seem to only want to host events?" Anggara said.
He also complained about the governor's lack of planning and justification to residents and board members regarding the Formula E budgeting plan.
"We in the PSI are of the opinion that the Formula E race should be canceled unless there is complete transparency. The governor should order his staff to conduct an in-depth study first," said Anggara, the grandson of the late Ali Sastroamidjojo, a former Indonesian prime minister.
Passed many studies
Hani Sumarno, event organizer Jakarta Propertindo's (Jakpro) corporate secretary, said that before agreeing to host the Formula E Championship, the company had already conducted both pre-feasibility and feasibility studies.
"We've done everything according to procedure. The first thing to be done was a feasibility study. Then, we assessed the economic, social, geotechnological and urban regeneration impacts. All the assessments were done holistically," Hani said.
According to Hani, Formula E will have a positive impact on the Indonesian economy, especially in Jakarta.
"Will all the money go to Jakpro? No, no. The tourism industry, from airlines, hotels, to restaurants will reap financial benefits," Hani said.
Jakpro said in a presentation that the company needed around Rp 767 billion ($55 million) to host the Formula E race on June 6 next year.
The budget has been made part of a Rp 4.6 trillion capital injection for 2020 that Jakpro is proposing to the city council for approval.
Dwi Wahyu Daryoto told the Jakarta City Council's Commission B that according to its projection the event would bring in Rp 50 billion in revenue.
"The money will come from grandstand and general admissions ticketing, hospitality services, sponsorships and other sources," Dwi said.
When commission members criticized the meager revenue compared to the city's capital injection, Dwi said the company expects to bring in more for the city in the following years since it will hold the event's license from the provincial government for five years.