The Return Of The Bakries
There is no doubting the clout of the Bakrie Boys. They've had a cash flow crisis: a mere $1.2 billion in loans had to be repaid because they'd used stock in their various companies - coal exploitation company, PT Bumi Resources, PT Energi Mega Persada, co-owner of Lapindo Brantas responsible for the Sidoarjo mudflow, and PT Bakrie Sumatera Plantation, probably responsible for much of Sumatra's deforestation - as collateral for loans from a few financing institutions.
This was, of course, bad timing, as no-one apart from cynics such as your correspondent had foreseen the failed societies which are the legacy of greedy bastards.
As major exploiters of Indonesia's resources, although some would describe them as despoilers, the Bakrie Boys became richer than several countries, so there was no way that they could be allowed to join the rest of us struggling to make ends meet. The Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSX) was therefore shut for a while so that nobody could buy and sell shares. One member of the government, Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani, did order the JSX to continue trading the shares, against the wishes of SBY and Kalla, but with a drop in value of 10% in ten minutes, trading was quickly suspended.
Some of us thought that Indonesian state companies ought to take over the companies, thus retaining overall control of Indonesian resources, but this was not to be because the Bakries have something more important - friends.Some have said
that the Presidential team of SBY and Kalla, a Bakrie protegé and another oligarch, are such pals because they are beholden to big brother Abdurizal, currently Minister of (His Family's) Welfare because the Boys were the major contributors to their campaign. Apparently not: there was at least one other donor who gave more.
The friend in the matter of settling their debts turns out to be Northstar Pacific Partners Ltd. -- founded by the family's close friend businessman Patrick Walujo
. I can't tell you more about this as there is a distinct lack of transparency about the deal. Why should anyone take over massive debts yet allow the debtor to remain in control of the defaulting companies?
Of course, this is good news for all those in the business empire fearful of losing their jobs. Except ... those countries dependent on the import of Indonesia's resources can't afford them now as their economies are shrinking. Furthermore, prices of commodities are plummeting fast as demand drops, so whither Bakrie's fortune? Selling more cell phones? Esia
said than done!
There is one glimmer in the gloom, though.
All but the Bakrie Boys (and friends) have always held them responsible for the Sidorajo mudflow. Most geologists now agree
, that it was the drilling of Lapinos Brantas that was responsible for releasing the subterranean ooze.
Now that the immediate future of the companies has been secured, the Sidoarjo refugees can finally be paid
the remaining 80% compensation that SBY ordered Lapindo Brantas to pay - nigh on two years ago.Victims’ representatives of four villages - Renokenongo, Kedungbendo, Jatirejo and Siring - included in the map of affected areas as stipulated in a 2007 presidential decree, held lengthy talks Wednesday with the Sidoarjo Mudflow Mitigation Agency (BPLS) and Nirwan Bakrie, head of the Bakrie Group of companies, at the State Secretariat, finally agreeing to settle the remaining 80 percent of compensation through monthly installments of Rp 30 million (US$2,500) to each affected family.
This meeting took place after extensive lobbying of SBY
by the victims. He is reported to have said, “I feel inconvenienced by this problem. If we can resolve the Aceh issue, why can’t we resolve this?
Yesterday, there was a massive demonstration by the refugees which blocked the Surabaya - Malang highway. The demonstrators branded the Bakrie Boys as liars, because the Wednesday agreement could well be yet another broken promise.
And maybe they're worried that even when (if?) they do get paid, a large percentage of the compensation will, as before
, have to be paid to the broker-representatives who were at the meeting.
Some folk are never satisfied.
(Learn more about the Bakrie Boys here.)