Headlines

Govt prepares to face another
suit on mining law

The government is gearing up to face a complaint on the 2009 Mining Law prepared by the same organization that previously brought down upstream oil and gas regulator BPMigas through a surprising verdict from the Constitutional Court, a minister has said.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik said on Sunday he would gather all of the lawmakers and officials involved in the formulation of the Mining Law as part of preparations for the planned judicial review.

“It is my job as a minister to implement all the steps stipulated in the existing laws. If a law is annulled, then those involved in its drafting must also be responsible,” he told The Jakarta Post in a
telephone interview.

Jero was commenting on a recent statement by Muhammadiyah’s chairman, Din Syamsuddin, who said the organization would continue to file complaints on several natural resource laws in a bid to open access for Indonesians to benefit from the country’s rich resources.

Din told reporters at Muhammadiyah’s headquarters in Jakarta last Thursday that the nation’s second-largest Muslim organization saw several regulations, including those issued under the Mining Law, as unconstitutional because “they have impoverished the majority of Indonesians and enriched foreign agencies”.

“We are not anti-foreigners, but we believe that the government must put its people first before any business ties with foreign companies,” he added.

Din cited this idea as the reason Muhammadiyah had teamed up with 41 other organizations to file a review of the 2001 Oil and Gas Law last year, several parts of which were struck down by the Constitutional Court last week, resulting in the dissolution of BPMigas.

According to Din, a team of experts had conducted a thorough review of the law from 2009 to 2010 before finally concluding that it contradicted the 1945 Constitution.

Several high-profile figures also joined the club to petition for the review, including Hasyim Muzadi, the former chairman of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), and senior Golkar Party politician and former industry minister, Fahmi Idris.

Kwik Kian Gie and Rizal Ramli — former ministers under administrations of the late Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Soekarnoputri — as well as Kurtubi, an energy expert at state energy firm PT Pertamina, were asked by the plaintiffs to become expert witnesses in the case.

In September, a Supreme Court verdict ordered the government to withdraw four chapters of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministerial Decree No. 7 on mineral processing, including one chapter on export taxes for mineral ore, after reviewing a complaint from Indonesia’s nickel businesses association.

The export tax was meant to prevent the exploitation of mineral ore ahead of the government’s plan to fully prohibit exports of unprocessed metals in 2014, as stipulated in the Mining Law, which will be subject to review by the Constitutional Court.

Jero had earlier said that the government was currently drafting a new regulation in light of the verdict.

Separately, noted lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis said the court’s verdict to disband BPMigas pointed to the legal uncertainties faced by foreign investors in expanding their businesses in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

With the Constitutional Court currently reviewing the 2009 Mining Law, Todung noted more businesses would be wary of the risks of investing in Indonesia.

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