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Widodo Seeks to Defuse Fuel Protests With Budget Benefits

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s ability to weather opposition to higher fuel prices hinges on convincing the public that billions of dollars in savings will be spent to improve their lives.

Widodo, who announced the increase on Nov. 17, campaigned on a pledge to scale back fuel subsidies, which cost the country more than $20 billion a year, to free up funds for infrastructure, education and health care in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. While the move has been welcomed by investors it will expose Widodo, known as Jokowi, to political attacks and the risk of strikes and street protests less than two months after he took office.