TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - One year after he became CEO of the state-owned electricity company PLN, Sofyan Basir is getting all kinds of criticism and condemnation. This is because the new criteria to tender out the 35,000 megawatt power generator were closed to competition, favoring only investors from China. The announcement that a proposal was required to be submitted in one month's time was unlikely to be met by Japanese or American investors, who needed four to six months to prepare it. The requirement of a 10 percent deposit of the total project value was also seen as a burden to the investor.
But Sofyan is taking it all lightly. "Those are complaints from light-weight investors," he told Tempo reporter Ayu Prima Sandi, following a meeting at the office of the Vice President last week. He said the classy Chinese investors had signed an agreement to carry out a 17,000 MW power generation project, out of the 35,000 MW facilities the government is rushing to build. The Chinese investment is likely to dominate the private-sector electricity supply.
Why is the new PLN policy seemingly open only to China?
That's where you're wrong. The fact is the Chinese investor is a state-owned Chinese company backed by its government. Right now, I'm buying electricity, not building power generators as Chinese companies used to do in the past. If the facilities malfunction, I stop paying the company. Isn't this far smarter?
Other government officials and investors complain you're hard to reach.
If that's the case, how was I able to come up with a 17,000 MW investment? What do investors want? Those are light-weight investors whose objectives are unclear.
Is it true that you resent the presence of the Electricity Generating Program Unit (UP3KN)?
No. Let the UP3KN monitor what's being done by PLN, but not where independent power producers are concerned. That's restricted.
Are you saying the UP3KN cannot intervene in what is being carried out by PLN itself?
No, we just place limitations. We ask UP3KN chief Nur Pamudji to look into independent power projects, not PLN projects. That's the emphasis.
Why did you tell Energy and Mining Minister Sudirman Said to fire Nur Pamudji?
Not at all. That's Pak Sudirman's business.
Why is it that meetings between the UP3KN and PLN have not worked out?
That's not it. The director happens to be away on assignment. All PLN employees are working all out so the agreement signed by the State Palace is achieved. Our main focus is PLN's success, which eventually will be the success of the energy and mining ministry. If PLN fails to produce more than 10,000 MW power, that goal will fail to be met. So every PLN success is part of the energy ministry's success. That is what's important. (*)
Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine