Thu, June 06 2013 16:24
Reclaiming Our Water
Jakarta is Taking Over Its Water

(Translated from Kompas Daily Newspaper, 5 June 2013 by Irvan Zamzami)

JAKARTA, KOMPAS -- after years managed by foreign private firm, Jakarta Provincial Government will take over the shares of PT Palyja, one of the clean water operators. The repurchase is exercised to improve the quality of water services in the capital.

This plan was officially delivered by Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in front of the delegations of the French Ministry of Foreign Commerce during their visit to City Hall, Tuesday (4/6).

"This is not a preconceived plan. We take this seriously because this is a matter of principle. We prepare the funds for the share repurchase," said Jokowi.

Forty French delegations visited the City Hall. The delegations were led by Foreign Trade Minister Nicole Bricq. The meeting was divided into two, the government delegations met Jokowi, business delegations met the Vice Governor of Jakarta Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. PT Palyja share repurchase plan by the provincial government became the main subject.

Palyja is one of the water operators in Jakarta that has been operating since 1997, beside of PT Aetra. A total of 51 percent of Palyja’s shares are owned by French private firm, Suez Environment, the rest is owned by a national private firm. Previously, Palyja planned to sell its shares to a Philippine company, Manila Water.

The repurchase plan, according to Jokowi, is a "decent" step. However, if Palyja refuses to sell its shares, the government will take the second plan.

"The second plan is not meant to be revealed here," said Jokowi.

According to Jokowi, this is a big decision. Its purpose is to make the water service is oriented for the benefit of the people, not profit oriented. "We have to be bold," he said.

The share repurchase of the water operators by Jakarta provincial government is possible. According to the cooperation agreement with PT Palyja and PT Aetra, a share repurchase can be exercised after ten years of cooperation.

"Entering ten years of the cooperation agreement, I had encouraged the government to purchase the operators’ shares. The consideration, is that the management of water in Jakarta has yet to improve. However, the government at that time did not have enough courage to make decision. It is just now the plan is officially presented to the public," said expert in hydrology from University of Indonesia, Firdaus Ali.

Separately, Meyritha Maryanie of PT Palyja’s Public Relations said Palyja management did not know the plan. They also were not present at City Hall.

"We do not have the control over the share sale or share acquisition. The management remains fully committed to serving the citizens," she said.

Some organizations affiliated in People’s Coalition to Resist Jakarta Water Privatization (KMMSAJ) also organize citizen support. They are LBH Jakarta, Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), Kiara, KRuHA, and Jabotabek Women's Solidarity.

“According to the 2010 Central Bureau of Statistics’ data, only 34.8 percent of Jakarta residents covered by clean water service. This proves the poor performance of the private operators, "said Tama S Langkun of ICW.

The coalition also provides assistance for Jakarta citizens to donate money. The raised fund will be given to the Governor to help taking over the clean water management from the private operators.

According to a report from the Public Services International Research Unit in UK, by February 2011 there are already 51 cities in the United States, France, Germany, Canada, and other countries terminated the contract.

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