|Subject: RI to Timor Leste fuel smuggling
September 14, 2005
RI to Timor Leste fuel smuggling goes unabated
Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang
Fuel smuggling has been widespread over the Batam-East Kalimantan border and
also over the border of West Timor regency and the neighboring country of
Timor Leste, causing hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars in losses to
A senior Army official alleged that the fuel was smuggled via both sea and
land transportation into the neighboring country. The diesel fuel is
allegedly smuggled out by tanker from South Sulawesi province, while
kerosene and premium are dispatched to the neighboring country over the
border between West Timor regency and Timor Leste.
The illegal export of fuel has been on the rise due to the price disparity
between Indonesia and Timor Leste. The price of premium, kerosene and diesel
fuel is lower in Indonesia as it has been heavily subsidized by the
government, while the price of fuel is higher in the neighboring country as
there is no government subsidy.
Due to the higher prices in Timor Leste, irresponsible parties in Indonesia,
with the help of their Timor Leste counterparts, have smuggled fuel and
gasoline into the neighboring country as other smugglers have done over the
border between Batam and Singapore.
In Timor Leste, the price of kerosene is Rp 7,500 a liter, premium Rp 10,000
a liter and diesel fuel Rp 7,500 a liter, or approximately five times the
The Indonesian Army claims to have fought smuggling for years, but the
illicit activity has continued unabated.
"The surveillance by Timor Leste Police and the Army has been weak. As an
example, along the Motaain and Nunura border, there are six Indonesian Army
posts but no Timor Leste Police or military outposts," said Lt. Col. Yul
Aviandi, the chief of an Indonesian task force assigned to secure the
Indonesian and Timor Leste border.
The Indonesian Army has foiled several smuggling attempts into Timor Leste
but still the illicit operations continue. Yul estimated that in a month
some 2,000 liters of gasoline and fuel had been smuggled into Timor Leste,
causing huge losses to the state.
Belu Police chief overseeing West Timor regency Adj. Sr. Comr. Ekotrio
Budhiniar claimed the smuggling was organized by West Timor residents who
cooperated with their relatives in Timor Leste.
The rampant smuggling over the Indonesian and Timor Leste border has also
been confirmed by local residents. Fuel and other basic necessities have
been smuggled into East Timor via unmapped routes that are infrequently
used. "It's hard to stop the smuggling because the illicit activities have
allegedly been backed by security personnel," said Mundus Sako, quoted as
saying by Antara news agency.
The antismuggling operations have targeted petty traders who are caught with
five to 10 liters of fuel, while the big traders are left untouched, said
Fuel smuggling hit media headlines in the past week after reports surfaced
of Pertamina officials' alleged involvement in fuel smuggling in Batam and
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