Govt deemed to take foreign side in NNT divestment
A labor economist, Yanuar, testified that the government was tending to take the Newmont Mining Corporation’s side in its move to maintain its rights in the purchase of seven percent of PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara (NNT) shares worth US$246.8 million.
“The government’s move [to purchase the 7 percent of shares] will strengthen NMC’s bargaining power as operator in controlling the gold mining,” Yanuar said in his testimony before the Constitutional Court’s session here on Monday.
The Constitutional Court held the court session after Minister of Finance Agus Martowardojo filed a review to the decision of the House of Representatives which has asked the government to cancel the shares’ purchase because it was against the law and the constitution.
The House and the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) have opposed the deal as illegal because the government took the funds to purchase the shares from the state budget. The House has also recommended the central government to allow the West Nusa Tenggara provincial government to purchase the additional shares to improve its control over the gold mining’s operation and to raise its revenue to improve the social welfare of local people in the province.
Yanuar said further that the acquisition by the central government of the 7 percent of NNT shares would not strengthen the national interests as it was stipulated in NNT’s work of contract signed by the government and the NMC on Dec. 2, 1986 because if a small part of the NNT shares is owned by the central government and a small part of other shares in the provincial government, the company’s financial control will remain in the hands of NMC.
According to him, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should interfere in the power dispute between the Finance Ministry and the provincial government and stop the finance minister’s move to fight for a greater national interest and to help the provincial government strengthen its control over the mining company. (ued)