In this connection, State Secretary Harriet Berg of the Ministry of Trade and Industry told the newspaper Dagsavisen on 26 February that the Government cannot tell Hydro what to do in an individual case, even if the state is the principal stockholder. Berg says that a discussion with Hydro of the said problems is not on the agenda, and that the Utkal project will not be dealt with in the newly established committee for contact with trade and industry. On 17 February NorWatch disclosed information that the Kongsberg Group, in which the Norwegian government holds the majority of the stock, was to be present at an Oil & Gas Expo in Burma, in order to try to land contracts with the country's oil industry. The following day the Norwegian News Agency announced that the company is not going to the Expo, due to what is described as "pressure", "requests" and "explicit advice" from Minister of Trade and Industry Sponheim and Prime Minister Bondevik. NorWatch asks the Government to make clear its position on "control" of companies in which it holds a majority of the stock. If the Government does not intend to do something about the suffering Norsk Hydro presently is inflicting on the inhabitants of Orissa, its initiative when it comes to Kongsberg/Burma is nothing more than a move to please the public and no indication of a change of policy.
Norwatch Newsletter 5/98