Thousands of people in Indonesia participated in massive protests in multiple cities around the country on Tuesday after Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced a fuel price hike and a massive cut in the fuel price subsidies.

The fuel price hike was announced on Saturday by Widodo, who said that the ballooning budget for the energy subsidy has forced the government to allow the price of fuel to rise by 30%, a shocking move for a country that has subsidized fuel for its citizens for decades, according to Reuters.

Widodo has attempted to rationalize the subsidy cut by saying that, due to the increase of fuel prices worldwide, the energy subsidy budget has tripled to over US$34 billion, causing a strain on the overall budget of the government, al-Jazeera reported.

“The government has tried its best as I really want fuel prices to remain affordable,” Widodo said in a televised address. “The government has to make decisions in difficult situations.”

Protests have erupted in the capital, Jakarta, as well as the cities of Surabaya, Makassar, Kendari, Aceh, and Yogyakarta, led by student protest groups and labor unions. Police officials expressed that they expect tens of thousands of people to participate in the protests by the end of the week.

“Workers are really, really suffering right now,” union official Abdul Aris said. “The price shouldn’t have been raised.”

Over 7,000 police officers have been deployed to mitigate the effects of the protests, though no reports of violence or arrests have been announced since the protests began in Jakarta. Many of those protesting are also calling for a minimum wage hike that matches the increase in fuel prices to lessen the blow to the poor and middle class.

“If the fuel price is hiked and wages increase too, that's OK,” textile factory worker Adi Asmadi said. “If it's not, we object.”

The Indonesian government has attempted to lessen the impact of the situation on the poor by bettering the welfare programs of the country, which includes a direct cash transfer program to a portion of the 20 million households that they are targeting.

“These are very difficult conditions, but if you look at the assistance provided by the government, it is quite large,” Minister of Social Affairs Tri Rismaharini said. “We hope this could help cushion the rise in prices that the people are facing.”

Protests occured in Indonesia on Tuesday after President Joko Widodo announced the massive cut of energy subsidies and a fuel price hike, an unpopular move that has caused anger in the people. This is a representational image. Richard Bell/Unsplash.

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