Nina Loasana, Jakarta – The Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI) urged the government to cut the prices of electricity and fuel to help people amid the weakening economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federation's secretary-general, Riden Hatam Azis, said the workers' demands were realistic considering plummeting oil prices. International benchmark Brent crude was down 2.3 percent in afternoon trade on Monday at $26 a barrel, after earlier being down about 5 percent.
"By cutting fuel prices, we hope people's purchasing power remains stable in this difficult time caused by the pandemic," Raden said in a statement on Tuesday.
The decrease in fuel prices, he explained, would be followed by a drop in staple food prices, as the former would cause a decrease in distribution costs.
"The government should also cut electricity rates as it has lowered the price of industrial gas to US$6 per million British thermal unit [mmbtu]," Raden said. "The decrease in gas price would automatically be followed by a decrease in production costs for state electricity firm PLN."
He went on to say a cut in the electricity rate would help those are forced to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"The government should act fairly. When the global oil price rises, they increase prices for fuel and electricity. Therefore, they should also lower those prices now as the global oil price is plummeting now."
Oil prices were mixed in volatile Asian trade on Monday, but remained at multi-year lows due to the double shock of the coronavirus pandemic and the Saudi-Russia price war.