Fri, 16 Jun 2000

Kalla demands government revive Bukaka's deal

JAKARTA (JP): Former minister of industry and trade Yusuf Kalla said on Wednesday he would continue his fight against the government's recent decision to revoke the contract awarded by state electricity company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) to his company.

"We want PLN to cancel the plan to retender the project, which we have already won," Kalla said following a meeting with the House of Representatives' Commission III.

He said he would send a second warning letter to PLN next week to notify the latter that a law suit was waiting if PLN failed to implement his company's contract.

PT Bukaka-Wijaya Karya Mega Eltra, owned by Kalla, won the contract in late 1999 to build a US$75 million power transmission network linking the Paiton power plant in East Java and a power distribution net in West Java.

But the government annulled the contract in May on grounds that the company was financially unfit to carry out the project.

Kalla, who is a commissioner at Bukaka, said the warning letters contained no demand for any compensation yet, although the his company had spent over Rp 20 billion (about US$2.3 million) in preparing the project.

PLN said that an evaluation by the Ministry of Mines and Energy further regarded Bukaka as financially and technically unfit for the project.

However, Kalla said the ministry's evaluation had found Bukaka capable of pursuing the project, as the company was financially supported by the Mitsubishi business group.

"We were lacking in funds but we have Mitsubishi behind us," he said.

Asked whether he thought President Abdurrahman Wahid had interfered to cancel Bukaka's tender, Kalla responded: "that's obvious."

However, he failed to explain how the President interfered. "It was not through a letter to Kwik," he said, referring to Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry Kwik Kian Gie.

According to Kalla, the President's healer, Daniel Tay, acted as middleman to the ABB consortium, not the Shanghai Trans consortium as reported by this newspaper on Wednesday.

He said Tay played a vital role in lobbying the President and PLN, which led to the cancellation of Bukaka's tender.

According to him, Tay must have met PLN president Kuntoro Mangkusubroto in January and February.

Kuntoro said on Tuesday during a hearing with the House's Commission VIII that Tay had met him to lobby for one of the tender participants.

Though he declined to name the consortium, Kalla explained it was the ABB consortium to which Kuntoro referred.

ABB, he said, had replaced the Shanghai Trans consortium from the number three position, after the latter was disqualified from the tender.

Under normal practices, a bidder which is ranked second could replace the winner if it is disqualified. But Kuntoro said that the project would be retendered in July and Bukaka was allowed to participate in the retender.

Kalla denied allegations that Bukaka lost the tender due to corruption, collusion and nepotism practices during tendering.

President Abdurrahman dismissed Kalla this April from his ministerial position, on suspicion of his involvement in these alleged practices.

Separately, Kalla's brother, Ahmad Kalla, said that Daniel Tay, 75, has known President Abdurrahman for 15 years.

"Tay helped Gus Dur in seeking medical treatment from China for his eyes and ears," Ahmad said, referring to the President by his nickname.

The company that Tay represented was the Austrian-based multinational company Asea Brown Boveri (ABB), he said.(bkm)