Consumers will accept it if its quality is better than that of Premium."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government still needs to popularize its new Pertalite gasoline before launching it in the market as a national fuel, as a large section of consumers are not yet well informed about it.

"Many people are not yet well informed about Pertalite gasoline. They will be confused if it is launched in the market," economic observer Winata Wira of the Raja Ali Haji Maritime University, Tanjungpinang, Riau Islands, stated on Wednesday.

Wira remarked that fuel is a basic requirement, hence the government, through the state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina, should adopt a sensitive approach while implementing a new fuel policy. Since fuel is a very sensitive commodity, so Pertamina should consider the psychological aspects related to the consumers before launching it in the market.

"Pertamina should make every effort to take effective steps to convince the consumers. It has to introduce what Pertalite is and its benefits such as its environmental friendliness and efficiency that will encourage consumers to use it," Wira explained.

Pertaminas Marketing Director Ahmad Bambang conveyed last month (April 26) his companys readiness to distribute Pertalite, a Research Octane Number (RON) 90 fuel, starting from May.

"We are around 90 percent ready," Bambang was quoted on Monday (April 27) by the Jakarta Post as saying.

Bambang revealed that Pertaminas readiness included activities to produce, introduce, launch, and distribute the new fuel product.

However, until now, Pertamina is still making the necessary preparations to launch Pertalite. In the initial phase of the launch, Pertalite is expected to be sold in big cities such as Jakarta, Semarang, and Surabaya.

The launch of Pertalite is expected to replace Premium gasoline, particularly in big cities, as Premium will later only be available in fuel refilling stations (SPBUs) for public transportation in the outskirts.

According to Hardiyanto Tato, the marketing manager of Pertamina for East Nusa Tenggara, in stages, the people will no longer be able to purchase Premium in big cities in Indonesia. Premium gasoline could then only be bought by public transportation vehicles in several SPBUs in the suburban areas.

In its efforts to replace Premium having RON 88, Pertamina will provide Pertalite gasoline with a higher octane level, namely RON 90, yet it is still lower than the octane level in Pertamax, which is RON 92.

"The price of Pertalite will be lower than Pertamax yet higher than RON 88 Premium,"Tato emphasized.

He stated that RON 90 Pertalite has a higher efficiency as compared to RON 88 Premium.

"With a 2-3 percent better efficiency and a price within the financial reach of consumers, the public will get a better quality fuel even though they are buying it at a relatively higher price as compared to Premium," Tato remarked.

However, economic observer Joubert Maramis of the Sam Ratulangi University (Unsrat), Manado, North Sulawesi, noted that the government should not set a high price for Pertalite, so that it would still be affordable for consumers.

"For me, a fuel substitute to Premium is acceptable, but there are two conditions that the government should fulfill: reasonable price and continuity of supply in the market," asserted Maramis in Manado on Thursday (May 21).

He said that in terms of price, Pertalite should be sold at a price equal to that of Premium yet this seems to be impossible, as its production cost is higher than that of Premium. The government will certainly not provide a subsidy on it.

"So, the government should take the middle path, which is to set a price that is not too high," Maramis stated, adding that a difference of Rp300 higher than the cost of Premium per liter is a reasonable price that will not overly burden the consumers.

"If Premium is replaced with Pertalite as the crude price abroad fluctuates, the supply at home will be adequate. The price is not too high, and car engines will deliver good performance. Such a case will be okay for me," Maramis added.

However, if there are other issues such as trademark, unilateral agreement with importers and Pertialite-exporting countries, or the interest of certain groups, the people will not accept it, he affirmed.

Meanwhile, another economic observer Agus Tony Poputra of the Sam Ratulangi University of Manado noted that the launch of Pertalite is acceptable as long as its quality is better.

"Consumers will accept it if its quality is better than that of Premium," remarked Poputra in Manado on Thursday.

He affirmed that besides quality, subsidy is also an important factor.

"I think Pertalite should be subsidized because its price will be far higher than that of Premium," Poputra stated.

After all, Premium or RON 88 fuel is no longer produced by exporter countries as they now produce RON 90. So, Pertamina has to spend additional money to convert RON 90 to Premium or RON 88. RON 90 is admittedly better than Premium.

Though Premium is no longer produced by exporter countries, Pertalite will not automatically replace Premium, which is used by most consumers now.

"The people still misunderstand it as though Pertalite will directly replace Premium," Hardiyanto Tato of Pertamina in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara remarked.

He emphasized that Pertamina is keen to provide a better quality fuel to consumers. Thus, it will later replace Premium.

"Admittedly, Pertamina has intentions to phase out RON 88 gasoline or Premium but not all of a sudden," he added.

Reporter: Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Priyambodo RH
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