Minister denies rejecting plan to buy copper for fire fighting

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - National Development Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil denied on Thursday that he has rejected the Environment and Forestry Ministrys plan to buy a helicopter to help land and forest fire fighting efforts.

"We dont reject the plan but we question the use of the helicopter. Why dont we hire it in the same way as the National Disaster Mitigation Board (BNPB) and the others?" he said at the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs office here.

Sofyan, who is also the head of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), cast doubts that if the ministry only operates one helicopter it will be managed properly.

"But if it is managed by a professional company, such as PT Pelita Air Service, we will only hire it for several hours under a one-year contract because many companies specifically manage helicopters," he said.

Therefore, he added it will be cheaper to hire a helicopter than to buy it. The problem is that if only one helicopter is managed, it requires intensive maintenance, he stated.

At a meeting with the House Commission IV on Wednesday, the Environment and Forestry Ministry proposed an additional budget allocation of Rp650 billion, particularly to finance land and forest fire fight efforts, including prevention, control and restoration of affected areas.(*)