Friday, April 19, 2024

Slow approval of mining work plans linked to recent corruption case: ESDM ministry

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The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) says delayed approval of mining work plans and budget allocations (RKAB) for 2024 is a domino effect of the corruption case in the Mandiodo Block, North Konawe, Southeast Sulawesi in 2023.

Acting Director General of Minerals and Coal at the Ministry of ESDM, Bambang Suswantono, said that their institution only began the approval process for RKAB 2024 in early December 2023. 

In the months prior, Bambang stated, the performance of the Directorate General of Minerals and Coal collapsed as its director general, director, and three coordinators were embroiled in legal cases related to corruption in the Mandiodo Block.

“I understand the situation a year ago when the Mandiodo case surfaced in May-June. The Prosecutor’s Office targeted the director general, director, and 3 coordinators. They were the spearheads and decision-makers. As a result, when they were all implicated, I’m sorry to say, our colleagues below collapsed. If we use military terms, they were lying down,” Bambang said on Tuesday, March 19, 2024.

“Automatically, from May to August 2023, there was almost no activity to finalize RKAB 2023. We joined in September, we approached our colleagues at the Directorate General of Minerals and Coal,” he added. 

According to Bambang’s confession, employees at the Directorate General of Minerals and Coal at that time were reluctant to proceed with RKAB 2023 because it would pose problems if they adhered to the old regulations in light of the corruption case. Employees, Bambang said, feared being summoned by law enforcement if they made missteps.

Therefore, at least four types of alternatives were considered by employees of the Directorate General of Minerals and Coal at that time. Among them were requesting transfers, resigning, taking unpaid leave, and studying abroad.

Finally, Bambang stepped in and became Acting Director General of Minerals and Coal in September 2023 and began various approaches to encourage employees to continue finalizing the mineral RKAB 2023. Additionally, he proposed to Minister of ESDM Arifin Tasrif to strengthen the directorate he led.

“We reported to Minister Arifin to request reinforcement from the ESDM Ministry units, there are 25 of them with geological and mining capabilities to strengthen Minerba. Then, I asked for more from mining inspectors in the provinces, there are around 22 from outside, we consolidated them in one place to finalize RKAB 2023. That was from October to November. It must be completed [approval of RKAB] for 2023,” he said.

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