Sat, 11 Sep 1999

Kuntoro gives up on bill

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Mines and Energy Kuntoro Mangkusubroto has given up all hope for new oil and gas legislation, which would have modernized Indonesia's oil sector.

"The deliberation of the bill between the government and the House of Representatives has come to a dead end," Kuntoro told reporters on Friday.

The death knell was the letter from the United Development Party (PPP) asking that the bill be dropped completely because of substantial disagreements between the government and the House.

The letter, signed by PPP faction leader Zarkasih Nur, stated that the differences could no longer be reconciled.

The House rules require that bills be supported by all four factions before they can be passed into law.

Kuntoro said this was a major setback for the country's oil industry.

"The failure to endorse the bill means we will not be able to modernize the oil and gas sector," Kuntoro said.

It would also be impossible to reveal irregularities in the sector, he added.

The government, which drafted the bill, has been at loggerheads with the House on the status of Pertamina, the state oil monopoly. The ministry sought to end its privilege in granting lucrative contracts while the House insisted that Pertamina retain that right.

The House, which still has several bills to deliberate, will end its tenure at the end of the month to make way for legislators elected in the June general election. (02)